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Updated 2019-02-22 18:23
"London Cries": the merchants' patter of 19th Century London
One genre of 19th Cen illustrated pamphlet was the "Cries of London" (previously), which celebrated the market traders' characteristic sales patter, which were catalogued as a kind of urban birdsong.Aunt Busy Bee’s New London Cries (1852) is a lovely example of the genre, both for its lively illustrations and the wonderful pitches it records (and also for the reminder of all the professions that have been so thoroughly superannuated that even their existence is long forgotten).As Spitalfield Life's "Gentle Author" points out, London's market hawkers are still on the scene, and still calling out: the birdsongs have changed, but the singing never stopped.The Lavender Girl walked into London carrying the lavender she picked that morning in the fields. The Band Box Man is selling the hat boxes that are product of his cottage industry, manufactured at home and sold on the streets, while. The Vegetable Seller is a Costermonger, buying his fruit at the wholesale market and hawking it around the street, as many did at Covent Garden and Spitalfields Markets. We are reminded that the Knife Grinder provides a public service in the home and workplace, while the Mackerel Girl has no choice but to carry her basket of fish around the city from Billingsgate, which she herself may not get to eat. The mishap of the Image Seller, in comic form, even illustrates the vulnerability of the street seller who relies upon trading to earn a crust and the responsibility of the customer to permit them a living. Read the rest
Tucker Carlson thought anti-elite historian would be an easy interview, but ended up telling him "go fuck yourself"
You may have seen the Dutch historian Rutger Bregman in a viral video last month, in which he appeared on a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos and berated the attendees for their tax-evasion and insisted that no amount of philanthropy can make up for starving the state of the money it needs to provide for everyone under democratic guidance.The net-fame earned Bregman an invitation to appear on Tucker Carlson's show, presumably as part of the wave of extremely selective right-wing interest in trustbusting and railing against elites.But Bregman was capable of understanding that just because Carlson thought he was on Bregman's side, it didn't follow that Bregman should be on Carlson's side, especially not after Carlson's years of carrying water for sinister, manipulative, pro-monopoly billionaires like Rupert Murdoch and David Koch.So Bregman lit into Carlson, calling him a "millionaire funded by billionaires" who was "part of the problem."Carlson lost his shit, flipped out, called Bregman a "moron" and a "tiny brain" and told him to "go fuck yourself," adding that he "tried to give you a hearing but you were too fucking annoying."Predictably, Carlson never aired the segment, but thankfully Bregman made his own recording and leaked it to Now This news, and it's online for all to see.Bregman then accuses Carlson of being bought by the Murdoch family and the Cato Institute, a rightwing thinktank of which Carlson was a fellow until 2015. Bregman says Tucker took the “dirty money” of the institute, which is funded in large part by the Koch brothers and opposes higher taxes. Read the rest
Like an Irish Spring
This soap commercial is more creepy than I remembered.This AM I was marveling at how I only use Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Castille Soap and have for almost 20 years. Before Dr. Bronner's I was brand loyal to Irish Spring.I still occasionally enjoy reading a bit of the Chick-esque marketing on a Dr. B's bottle but today in the shower I was wondering if the Irish Spring ads were the forgotten treasure trove of weird I remembered them to be.Yup. Read the rest
#JoinJuliana: Kids suing U.S. government over climate change need your help
'They said we could never win. And then we started winning.' — Young people around the U.S. are taking legal action in the fight against climate change. #JoinJuliana
Kickstarter to digitally erase the rat from the end of The Departed
The Departed is a Martin Scorsese mob movie about a rat. It ends with a scene depicting an actual rat making its way across a precarious railing: a metaphor so breathtakingly hamfisted it ruins the entire movie. Adam Sacks, therefore, is raising money on Kickstarter to have the rat digitally removed from the movie by a professional effects editor. [via Kottke]Previously: Dune with all the dialog removed Read the rest
The story of SNL's cue cards is fascinating. No, really.
This surprisingly interesting video goes behind the scenes at Saturday Night Live to show how crucial their cue cards are to the show. No teleprompters for them. A team of eight, led by SNL's cue card supervisor Wally Feresten, lovingly handwrites (and edits and rewrites) them for each and every episode. (Lifehacker) Read the rest
Death Generator: classic video game scenes with custom text
Foone Turing's Death Generator lets you create customizable "death" scenes from dozens of computer games. Foone painstakingly rips the media and fonts from old ROMs to create authentic recreations. Put in the text you want and the widget updates automatically. Some games have other options, and there's a button to upload your creation to imgur.If you want more stuff like this, Foone has a patreon page. Read the rest
Dialect quiz tracks down where you grew up
I was easy to locate because the term "Had" for the game "Tag" puts my childhood very precisely in Worthing, England, right by Brighton in this map. But it also knows I spent two years in Essex. The NYT's British-Irish dialect quiz is a sharp application of science. The U.S. version was published a while back. Read the rest
Find your perfect side hustle with this freelancer's bible
There's a reason you're hearing about the gig economy in every other business story these days. More than ever, people are finding income from more than one source. And if you find the right one, a side hustle can do more than just pad your pockets - it can allow you to finally get paid for doing what you love. Looking to dive in? A great way to start is with The Ultimate Side Hustle Bundle: Amazon FBA & Freelancing.In this nine-course online learning package, there's a good emphasis on how to launch, market and grow a business selling goods on FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) - with good reason. If you can make it, FBA can move it, as long as you lay down the right foundation with solid marketing and SEO savvy. But the bundle also gives a broad overview of how to make sure a freelance career works for you, without it absorbing too much time. And if what you're selling is your own know-how or talent, you can learn how to break into the ranks of the most-watched videos on YouTube.Lifetime access to the entire Ultimate Side Hustle Bundle: Amazon FBA & Freelancing is available now for $49. Read the rest
AFL-CIO open letter to game devs: things won't get better until you unionize
In the wake of Blizzard/Activision's announcement of mass layoffs following record profits, Liz Shuler of the AFL-CIO has published an open letter on Kotaku addressed to workers in the notoriously abusive video game industry, calling on them to unionize as the only path to a fair deal.My question is this: what have you gotten in return? While you’re putting in crunch time, your bosses are ringing the opening bell on Wall Street. While you’re creating some of the most groundbreaking products of our time, they’re pocketing billions. While you’re fighting through exhaustion and putting your soul into a game, Bobby Kotick and Andrew Wilson are toasting to “their” success.They get rich. They get notoriety. They get to be crowned visionaries and regarded as pioneers.What do you get?Outrageous hours and inadequate paychecks. Stressful, toxic work conditions that push you to your physical and mental limits. The fear that asking for better means risking your dream job.An Open Letter To Game Developers From America's Largest Labor Organization [Liz Shuler/Kotaku](via /.) Read the rest
Anti-vaxxers use Facebook to target pregnant women with fear and lies
Anti-vaxxers know no shame, Facebook is willing to do anything for an ad dollar, water is wet.Science Alert:Facebook is aggressively being used by anti-vaccination advocates to target pregnant women with sponsored advertisements to spread false information and conspiracy theories as the US battles a climbing measles outbreak.A sponsored ad found by Quartz journalist Jeremy Merrill shows the anti-vaccination organisation Stop Mandatory Vaccination targeting women ages 20 to 60 who have expressed interest in pregnancy living in the state of Washington – where the governor recently declared a state of emergency over the measles outbreak.Nearly 50 children and young adults in Clark County, Washington have become sickened by the disease since January.According to the CDC, there have been over 100 instances of measles since January – more than the entire year of 2016, when there were only 86. So far, nearly every child who has gotten ill is un-vaccinated.Facebook lets anti-vaxxers target ads specifically at women who are 'interested in pregnancy'. (But Facebook refuses to put that targeting information into its public database.)great find by @lachlan https://t.co/7swRhWc7AY pic.twitter.com/vnvsxNWVrw— Jeremy B. Merrill (@jeremybmerrill) February 14, 2019In the sponsored ad by Stop Mandatory Vaccinations, which has over 100,000 likes on Facebook, it said a woman's daughter died "12 hours after being injected by eight vaccines in 2008."Vaccination rates have plummeted in pockets of the Pacific Northwest in recent years, as lies about the dangers of vaccines have spread, despite the fact that the measles vaccine is safe for almost everyone and can prevent many debilitating illnesses and death. Read the rest
5 dead and 5 police officers shot in Illinois mass shooting; gunman also dead
5 are dead and five more police officers shot after a gunman opened fire in Aurora, Ill. CBS:The suspect, identified as Gary Martin, opened fired at Henry Pratt Company Friday afternoon in Aurora and was shot dead, police said.Martin, 45, is believed to have been employed by the company.Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman said police were notified about the shooting at 1:24 p.m. They arrived on the scene at 1:28 p.m. and were immediately fired upon.Five officers were shot. A sixth suffered a knee injury.Five civilians were killed. The names of the victims have not been released. ABC News has eyewitness reports:John Probst, a Henry Pratt employee who escaped the building, said he saw a man holding a pistol with a laser scope. He said he recognized the shooter as a coworker.There would have been approximately 30 people in the building at the time of the shooting, Probst said.Probst said he saw other coworkers injured and that the shooter was firing indiscriminately...."(The shooter) just went ballistic," John Probst, who works at Henry Pratt and was in the building at the time told ABC. "[One victim] came running down; he was bleeding pretty bad."Probst said he recognized the shooter as a coworker. Probst said he was "rolling down the aisles" with "a pistol with a laser on it." Read the rest
Watch a bus do a u-turn on a busy highway
According to Digg, this bus driver in China realized he wouldn't make it through a toll plaza so he pulled a u-ey. I think he actually wanted to grab a killer parking spot on the other side of the road. Read the rest
Akita puppy has serious snow addiction
“Maximus the Akita refusing to come inside yet again,” or COCAINE'S A HELLUVA DRUG, you pick.I mean, party hard, but pace yourself, bruh.IMGURIAN fuqHALO1 sure has a cute dog.Maximus has a snow addiction Read the rest
Trump admits his "National Emergency" isn't really an emergency
Trump admitted this morning that his "National Emergency" is not actually an emergency – "I didn't need to do this," he said about it. But the National Emergency would allow him to build his wall "faster." "I want to do it faster," he said. "I can do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn't need to do this. I would rather do it much faster. I don't have to do it for the election. I have already done a lot of wall for the election 2020."Via Buzzfeed:George Conway, a conservative lawyer — and the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway — who has been critical of the president, tweeted that Trump's comment "should be the first sentence of the first paragraph of every complaint filed this afternoon."Former US attorney Joyce Alene tweeted that Trump's comments were a "gift to all the lawyers preparing to sue him." Elizabeth Goitein of the Brennan Center for Justice tweeted that they were "plaintiffs' Exhibit A." Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe tweeted, "Some emergency!" Adi Kamdar, a fellow at the Knight First Amendment Institute, tweeted, "The brief practically writes itself."This quote should be the first sentence of the first paragraph of every complaint filed this afternoon. https://t.co/ClHQhpTaEe— George Conway (@gtconway3d) February 15, 2019Trump, questioned by @PeterAlexander, concedes there’s no national emergency to justify building his wall. “I didn’t need to do this.” “I just want to do it faster.” A gift to all the lawyers preparing to sue him. Read the rest
Bring your game idea to life and learn to design from home
Breaking into the indie video game market may be easier than you think. It all starts with an idea, and then it's a matter of finding the right development platform to bring it to life. No matter what that platform is, it's a good bet that it's covered in the 2019 Game Dev & Design Mega Mastery Bundle, an online course designed for budding developers.This bundle covers it all in ten courses and 160 hours of training. You'll get hands-on training in Java and Python by using them to create a reasonable facsimile of the viral hit Flappy Bird. If you see your world in higher-def, you'll want to pore over the sessions on Unity 5 and Blender, and how they can be used to create stunning visuals and smooth first-person shooters. You'll even learn how to use platforms like Mapbox to build the next hit AR app.It's all included in the 2019 Game Dev & Design Mega Mastery Bundle, now on sale for $39. Read the rest
India's e-waste recycling "markets" are toxic nightmares filled with child laborers
Millions of tons of e-waste -- much of it from rich countries like Australia -- are recycled in India, in "markets" with terrible, dangerous working conditions and equally awful environmental controls.India passed comprehensive e-waste recycling regulations in 2016, but they are not well enforced. Researchers from the UNSW report from Seelampur and Mandoli, two slums outside of Delhi, where the kabadiwalas (also called raddiwalas) work to dismantle truckloads of e-waste that are dumped there each day.The workers of Seelampur and Mandoli, many of them children, lack even the most basic safety equipment: many work without goggles, masks, gloves, or work-shoes, and work with unsuitable and primitive tools to remove precious metals and component from the guts of appliances, phones and other electronics.Components that can't be removed by hand are extracted through acid-immersion and open-air incineration, with the kinds of awful environmental and human consequences you'd expect.The pay runs around ₹200-800/day ($3-11), with children commanding the lowest salaries.Incidentally, while moving around Seelampur we were shocked to see children playing in drains clogged with dumped waste. During the drier months drains can catch fire, often deliberately lit to reduce waste accumulation.After our tour of Seelampur we visited Mandoli, a region near Delhi where we were told e-waste burning takes place.When we arrived and asked about e-waste recycling we were initially met with denials that such places exist.But after some persistence we were directed along narrow, rutted laneways to an industrial area flanked by fortified buildings with large locked metal doors and peephole slots not dissimilar to a prison. Read the rest
Yet another disembodied foot in a shoe washed up on a British Columbia beach
Something odd is afoot. There have now been 15 disembodied feet inside shoes that have washed ashore in southwest British Columbia over the last 12 years. (Previously.) From CBC:Since 2007, 10 of the 15 missing feet cases have been solved — all tied to missing person investigations, but this case, and four others, remain a mystery."I mean, certainly, it is an odd trend. One thing that we know is that these feet that are found — they're not linked to any sort of suspicious circumstance," said Watson. "I want to clear that up to make sure people are aware this isn't a cause for panic."According to Watson, feet are often the part of human remains that are found, as they easily disarticulate from the body and remain afloat, due to the foam shoe sole. Read the rest
Netherlands court strikes down Dutch grifter's patent claim over Ethiopia's ancient staple grain teff
Teff is one of the oldest grains to have been cultivated, a staple for so long that its original cultivation date is lost to history and can only be estimated at between 1000 and 4000 BCE; it is best known as the main ingredient in injera, the soft pancakes that are served with Ethiopian meals.In 2003, a Dutch human named Jans Roosjen filed a patent on teff, claiming to have invented it, and demanding a halt to virtually every means of preparing the grain. Roosjen ran an agronomy corporation that partnered with the Ethiopian government to market teff in Europe, which then went bankrupt after paying Ethopia a mere €4000. But before the bankruptcy, Roosjen and his company had filed their patent application by lying and claiming that the manner used for storing and processing teff was a novel invention.As the patent holder for teff, Roosjen struck lucrative deals with other EU companies -- and froze Ethiopia and its people out of access to European markets. Ethiopia itself lacked the resources to invalidate Roosjen's patent, so it remained in force until Roosjen threatened another Dutch company for making teff without paying him for a license. Roosjen's patent was invalidated in 2014, and this week, the deadline for an appeal passed, meaning that the patent is now permanently dead.Intellectual property is a grifter's best friend: grifters aren't mere con artists, they're the impressarios of immersive LARPs in which you are guided to signing contracts that say that everything you own is really something you misappropriated from them, and by continuing to use your stuff, you are nothing but a lawless cur. Read the rest
Every Detail visits the New York Public Library
Libraries rule. Every Detail is a wonderful series. Read the rest
Bill Gates debates Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 'tax the rich' policy
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates made some comments this week on the 'tax the rich' ideas making the rounds in America. Taxing the rich is fine, he said in an interview with The Verge, and "more progressive" taxes on the ultra rich are okay. Gates then went on to characterize Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as an 'extreme' politician who is missing the point by focusing on targeting high income brackets.AOC identifies as a Democratic socialist, and in January 2019 floated the idea of a 70 percent marginal rate on earned income over $10 million.Gates said in the interview that tax policies should focus on taxing wealth, not income, since the super-rich tend to have wealth in the form of assets, rather than income."If you focus on that, you're missing the picture," he said without mentioning AOC by name.From Nilay Patel at The Verge:Speaking on The Vergecast this week, Gates said that while marginal tax rates in the United States can be “more progressive” — higher, in other words — there are now some politicians who are “so extreme” that their proposals would lead to wealthy people hiding income and stashing it offshore. That’s a clear reference to new members of Congress like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who had just suggested a new top tax rate of 70 percent in the week before Gates sat for this interview.Gates also said that the world’s wealthiest people only have a “rounding error” worth of actual income compared to their wealth — they don’t have a lot of salary, but instead sell stocks and other assets to raise cash, which isn’t taxed as income anyway. Read the rest
The most censored Wechat topics: US-China trade war, Canadian arrest of Huawei CFO, ZTE sanctions, more
Wechatscope is a research project from the University of Hong Kong; they ingest every public status update on Wechat, the Chinese social network used by more than a billion people, then record which messages are later made unavailable, and infer from that the most censored topics on the network.International scandals top the list -- the US-Chinese trade war; the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou by Canadian authorities; US sanctions against ZTE -- but the list is dominated by domestic scandals: #MeToo at Peking University, a string of corruption cases, business frauds, and the CRISPR twins.It's a good reminder that Chinese internet censorship is a nuanced phenomenon, where certain kinds of unrest and scandal are tolerated (especially if they help root out corruption that does not implicate favored high-level officials), but anything that spills over into real-world demonstrations is stopped before it can get started.Upon examining our full 2018 data set, the research team found that the scope of topics censored on WeChat has expanded from domestic policies and social unrest to less politically sensitive topics, in what seems to be an effort to support China’s international political image as a “great power”. The most sensitive topics of 2018 included:1. China-US trade war2. US sanctions against ZTE3. The arrest of Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Huawei in Canada4. The investigation of businessman Ye Jianming for economic crimes5. Hongmao medicinal liquor scandal6. #Metoo and sexual harassment allegations against a Peking University professor7. Read the rest
California police find street gang's underground lair
Police in Fontana, California were searching a suspected gang member's home when they found a manhole built into the floor. Down the ladder was a small secret underground hideout containing an arsenal, shooting range, and rather modest hang-out space. According to CNN, "interlocking rubber mats lined the ground in one area, with something resembling furniture pads or moving blankets fixed to walls, and a US flag hanging in one corner. Another area had a dirt ground and a wall lined with sandbags.""We are the champions at Hide n Seek and no manhole will help you..." the police wrote on Facebook. "We strongly recommend that you put as much effort as you did in your underground cave, into becoming a productive member of society. You will thank us later for this advice." Read the rest
Make: a 3D printed replica of the shrine from Deities and Demigods, sized for D&D minis
Deities and Demigods is a storied resource book from the first edition of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons: between being copyright trolled by false claims of infringement on the Lovecraft estate (and a more valid copyright claim over the use of Elric of Melnibon mythos), and the general uselessness of gods and demigods to the vast majority of D&D campaigns, and the book's usefulness to nutjobs who claimed that D&D was a trojan horse for occult indoctrination, Deities and Demigods is a title whose reputation redounds even today.Some of that reputation is certainly down to Erol Otus's amazing cover art for the original hardcover, which is a standout even by the high standards of the work he did for TSR.That cover features (naturally enough), an altar/shrine/temple with lovely Frazettaish gracenotes. Jim Pacek has replicated that shrine as a 3D-printable STL file on Thingiverse, which can be printed at 28mm scale, perfect for your D&D miniatures.He even printed and painted one. It's amazing.(via Old School FRP) Read the rest
Little Sophia, an open-source robot companion
Hanson Robotics (previously, previously, previously, previously) is developing "Little Sophia", a young companion to its lineup of charming humanoids. [Thanks, Akimbo_NOT]Little Sophia is the little sister of Sophia and the newest member of the Hanson Robotics family. She is 14” tall, and your robot friend that makes STEM, coding and AI a fun and rewarding adventure for kids 7-13 years old, especially girls. Little Sophia can walk, talk, sing, play games and, like her big sister, tell jokes. With Little Sophia's software, and included tutorials through Hanson's AI Academy, she is a unique programmable, educational companion for kids, inspiring children to learn through a safe, interactive, human-robot experience. Kids, educators and even Sophia the Robot fans, regardless of age, will find Little Sophia irresistible! Read the rest
Dieter Rams's "10 Principles of Good Design"
Legendary designer Dieter Rams lays out the ten principles underlying his approach to "good design."A scene from "Rams", Gary Hustwit's new documentary about legendary designer Dieter Rams, with original music by Brian Eno. Motion graphics by Trollback & Co. Read the rest
Jeff Bezos’ investigator suspects 'a government agency' intercepted Amazon CEO's text messages
A Washington Post reporter said Thursday night that an investigator working for Jeff Bezos believes 'a government agency' accessed the Amazon CEO's texts and intimate photos.
Gay dating app Jack'd stored users' private images and data on unsecured AWS server
The gay dating app Jack'd, which has more than a million downloads in the Play store, stored images that users marked 'private' and posted in 1:1 chat sessions *on an unsecured AWS server.* The site is HTTP-accessible. Ars Technica first posted the story, and confirmed after publication, with testing, that the private image leak in Jack'd has been closed. “A full check of the new app is still in progress.”Excerpt:Jack'd, a "gay dating and chat" application with more than 1 million downloads from the Google Play store, has been leaving images posted by users and marked as "private" in chat sessions open to browsing on the Internet, potentially exposing the privacy of thousands of users. Photos were uploaded to an AWS S3 bucket accessible over an unsecured Web connection, identified by a sequential number. By simply traversing the range of sequential values, it was possible to view all images uploaded by Jack'd users—public or private. Additionally, location data and other metadata about users was accessible via the application's unsecured interfaces to backend data.The result was that intimate, private images—including pictures of genitalia and photos that revealed information about users' identity and location—were exposed to public view. Because the images were retrieved by the application over an insecure Web connection, they could be intercepted by anyone monitoring network traffic, including officials in areas where homosexuality is illegal, homosexuals are persecuted, or by other malicious actors. And since location data and phone identifying data were also available, users of the application could be targetedThere's reason to be concerned. Read the rest
Luke Skywalker on how to write a cover letter
Of course don't forget to personalize it.(via r/StarWars) Read the rest
All of the world’s money and markets in one visualization
This fascinating infographic compares the values of various assets (gold, silver, cryptocurrency, real estate, stocks, and so on) by presenting each asset as a number of $100 billion squares.All the global assets combined are dwarfed by the derivatives market.The infographic includes this quote from Warren Buffett:The derivatives genie is now well out of the bottle, and these instruments will almost certainly multiply in variety and number until some event makes their toxicity clear. Central banks and governments have so far found no effective way to control, or even monitor, the risks posed by these contracts. In my view, derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal.(The infographic was made in 2017 when the market capitalization of bitcoin was $100 billion. It's now $60 billion.) Read the rest
Over 500,000 US families go bankrupt from medical bills every year
A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that 67 percent of people filing for bankruptcy were wiped out by medical bills. That amounts to 530,000 families per year, a "figure that is virtually unchanged since before the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)."From Physicians for a National Health Program:Dr. David Himmelstein, the lead author of the study, a Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York's (CUNY) Hunter College and Lecturer at Harvard Medical School commented: "Unless you're Bill Gates, you're just one serious illness away from bankruptcy. For middle-class Americans, health insurance offers little protection. Most of us have policies with so many loopholes, copayments and deductibles that illness can put you in the poorhouse. And even the best job-based health insurance often vanishes when prolonged illness causes job loss - just when families need it most. Private health insurance is a defective product, akin to an umbrella that melts in the rain."In the article, the authors note that "medical bills frequently cause financial hardship, and the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported that they were by far the most common cause of unpaid bills sent to collection agencies in 2014, accounting for more than half of all such debts."Image: In 2010, an elderly relative of mine swallowed his partial denture, and it got stuck in his throat. He spent eight days in the hospital and the bill was $106,911.93. Luckily, he had insurance. Read the rest
NYPD demands Google Waze stop telling us where the cops are
The New York Police Department does not want you to know where sobriety checkpoints, traffic cameras or police officers are at any given moment."Surprise" is evidently a key element of law enforcement.NBC:Ann Prunty, the department's acting deputy commissioner for legal matters, wrote that Google should "take every necessary precaution to ensure" so that none of the NYPD'S checkpoint data is uploaded or posted on any of their map applications, including the popular Google Maps.Google did not respond to a request for comment."Individuals who post the locations of DWI checkpoints may be engaging in criminal conduct since such actions could be intentional attempts to prevent and/or impair the administration of the DWI laws and other relevant criminal and traffic laws," the letter reads.This isn't the first time the tech company and New York's finest have clashed. In 2015, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, a union of around 13,000 active and retired NYPD sergeants, wrote a letter to then-Google CEO Larry Page, demanding that the company disable a feature that allowed users to track locations of police officers in the city.The letter came after Brooklyn Police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were shot and killed by a gunman. The union said it believed the gunman used the Waze app to locate the officers."Revealing the location of checkpoints puts those drivers, their passengers and the general public at risk," Prunty wrote in Saturday's letter. Read the rest
Swedes are entitled to six months' leave to start a business, look after a sick relative, or study
Sweden consistently ranks as one of Europe's most innovative and entrepreneurial nations, and one of the most obvious explanations for this is the country's generous leave policy, which entitles salaried, full-time workers to six months' unpaid leave to start a (noncompeting) business, look after a sick relative, or go back to school.It's hard to overstate how tightly economic security is tied to entrepreneurship: if you have to be rich to take time off to start a business or get retrained to advance your career, the wealthy will always have an edge (over and above the advantage of being able to tap relatives for contacts and seed capital).The apologist's explanation for inequality is that it's just separating the excellent from the average (or the big cornflakes from the crumbs), using the market to ensure that capital accrues in the hands of those who can put it to best use in creating jobs and prosperity. According to this explanation, we should abandon any thought of building guillotines because the super-rich got that way by benefitting us all.But what if the tipping point in inequality attained in the late 1970s and the subsequent starving of the public coffers, destruction of the social safety net, and doctrine that says we have no duty to one another has meant that only the people who are already rich can afford to do the things that make one richer, like start a new venture or get a better education?What if the 1%-99% split means that 99% of the people whose ideas could create jobs, increase productivity and create prosperity are doomed to shitty gig-economy jobs, economic precarity, and debt-haunted anxiety that prevents them from realizing their potential, depriving all of us of the benefit that potential would bring? Read the rest
Demystify cryptocurrency with this online boot camp
Cryptocurrency: Seemingly overnight, it's gone from a curious sidebar in the world of economics to the driving force behind the fortunes of entrepreneurs the world over. What's even more amazing is how few people understand the blockchain technology that enables cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, even today. But that paradigm is changing fast, and the quickest way to get on board is with the 2019 Blockchain Developer Mastery Bundle.This eight-course bundle covers everything you need to know about the principles that underlie cryptocurrency. You'll get a bird's eye view of the concept of blockchains both from the perspective of the developer and the investor. You'll then take a deeper dive into the platforms used for creating them such as Javascript, EOS, and NEM. By the end of this 30+ hour boot camp, you'll not only know how cryptocurrencies work - you'll be able to create your own.Right now, lifetime access to the 2019 Blockchain Developer Mastery Bundle is $19 - a full 97% off the cost of the individual courses. Read the rest
What do reverse cyborgs want? A review of David Marusek's Glassing the Orgachine
In First Contact, Book 1 of David Marusek’s (previously) science fiction series Upon This Rock, an alien being crash lands in a remote corner of Alaska, not far from a family-cult of preppers for the end times, and the alien exploits the beliefs of the family patriarch by posing as an angel sent to earth to initiate the final conflict. Rooted deeply in contemporary Alaskan landscape and culture, the novel is funny and painful, part satire and part serious exploration of a particularly unfortunate instance of first contact. The novel ends on a cliffhanger, leaving many questions unanswered.Glassing the Orgachine, Book 2 of Upon This Rock, picks up the story of the alien and the evangelist, simultaneously deepening its focus on particular Alaskan characters and expanding outward to include an intergalactic conflict. In the process it takes on some of the big questions of human and nonhuman nature explored in novels like C. S. Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet, Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow, and John Varley’s The Ophiuchi Hotline. The juxtaposition of present-day satire with mind-bending drama is also reminiscent of alternate-world classics like Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle and even Gulliver’s Travels. Best of all, the novel pushes all that thematic weight briskly along at a rapid pace.Glassing the Orgachine particularly addresses the phenomenon of intelligence making a transition from organic to machine-based or, as the title suggests, from machine to organic. Read the rest
After more than a year of inaction,one of those privacy-leaking kids' smart watches has been recalled in Europe
It's been a year and a half since the Norwegian Consumer Council commissioned a security audit of kids' "smart watches" that revealed that anyone on the internet could track the wearers, talk to them through their watches, and listen in on them; a year later, Pen Test Partners revealed that the watches were still leaking sensitive information, a situation that hadn't changed as of last week.Now (finally!), the EU has had enough, and has announced the first-ever European recall over a product due to data privacy concerns, recalling the Safe-KID-One, manufactured by a Germany company called Enox.Enox's products share a Chinese-hosted back-end with "dozens of brands." "The mobile application accompanying the watch has unencrypted communications with its backend server and the server enables unauthenticated access to data," said authorities in the RAPEX alert. "As a consequence, the data such as location history, phone numbers, serial number can easily be retrieved and changed."On top of this, authorities also said that "a malicious user can send commands to any watch making it call another number of his choosing, can communicate with the child wearing the device or locate the child through GPS."EU orders recall of children's smartwatch over severe privacy concerns [Catalin Cimpanu/Zdnet](via /.) Read the rest
A service to help airline passengers get compensated for lost bags, delays, cancellations and overbookings
Airhelp is a service that helps airline passengers in 30 countries file claims (for delays, lost bags, overbookings, and cancellations) structured to increase the likelihood of paying out; the bots have made $930m in successful claims to date, and the company behind it only collects a commission when a claim succeeds.The service uses internal machine-learning systems that sifts through claims to identify high-potential claims, as well as correctable defects in claims, like missing documents. The system is similar to the many DoNotPay bots (previously), including one that helps passengers claim compensation if there is a price-drop after they buy their tickets.AgA (short for Agent’s Assistant) and Docky will help the company with customer service and automatic assessment of claims. AirHelp says it has been testing these bots internally since last year and that they have already assessed 30 percent of claims it receives with 95 percent accuracy. After making an assessment, if AgA comes to the conclusion that its decision is not perfect, it informs the operations agents to focus on the tasks needed to complete the assessment. Docky acts as an assistant operating within AgA to request missing documents from customers and handles 40 percent of those assignments. AirHelp’s new bots collect airline compensation for passengers [Manish Singh/Venturebeat](via /.) Read the rest
Study shows eye contact is not needed for enjoyable conversation
Researchers at Edith Cowan University, using eye-tracking technology, found that if you avoid eye contact while talking to another person and instead stare at their mouth or another part of their face, they will still enjoy talking to you as much as if you'd made eye contact.From Sage:Lead author Dr Shane Rogers, from the School of Arts and Humanities, said for people who experience social anxiety when gazing specifically at another person's eyes -- or when being looked at -- this finding will be welcome news."Maintaining strong eye contact is widely accepted to be an important communication skill in western cultures," Dr Rogers said."People believe if you aren't willing to engage in soul-to-soul mutual eye contact then you are at best lacking in confidence, at worst, untrustworthy."However, the reverence devoted to eye contact is not supported by scientific evidence," he said.The study involved a researcher engaging in four-minute conversations with 46 participants where both parties wore Tobii eye tracking glasses."For approximately half the conversations the researcher looked at the eyes most of the time, and for the other half gazed predominantly at the mouth," Dr Rogers said.After the conversations, the participants rated how much they enjoyed the conversations."The mouth group perceived the same amount of eye contact and enjoyed the conversations just as much as the eye group," Dr Rogers said.Image: jack1986/Shutterstock Read the rest
Toronto cops can frequently get your public transit history without a warrant
Metrolinx, the provincial agency that supplies the Presto cards used to pay for public transit rides in Toronto, has continued to hand over riders' travel history to Toronto-area cops without asking for a warrant.Law enforcement requests to Metrolinx have mounted steadily, growing by 47% last year, and in 22% of cases, the agency handed travel history over to police without a warrant.The Toronto Star first revealed this practice two years ago, but despite public outcry, Metrolinx continues to shun the rule of law, instead relying on what it calls "a balance" between "the commitment to protecting the privacy of Presto card users and maintaining the safety and security of the transit system and its passengers."Metrolinx has made good on its 2017 promise to publish annual summaries of law enforcement requests. The data on last year's activity comes from the latest report. Of the 94 requests, 50 were related to suspected offences or law enforcement investigations; 43 were related to an emergency, such as a missing person, and one was related to a missing wallet Metrolinx gave information in 26 requests related to suspected offences or law enforcement investigations; and nine related to an emergency In just four of the 26 cases related to law enforcement investigations or suspected offences did Metrolinx require a court order to share Presto users’ information. It didn’t require one in the remaining 22Metrolinx continues to share Presto users’ data without requiring warrants [Ben Spurr/Toronto Star](Image: High Cotton) Read the rest
Black Batman: an origin story for an alternate superhero
Jamelle Bouie (previously), has proposed an alternate Black Batman, with an accompanying background story that goes beyond race-switching Bruce Wayne and instead looks at the cultural and racial politics of America and finds exactly the right niche where a Black vigilante in a mask would fit.In Bouie's retelling, the Wayne family aren't high-profile billionaires; they're wealthy philanthropists in who work quietly in the mold of "Booker T Washington uplift ideology" to support the "segregated and disadvantaged" Black community of Gotham, and only interact with white society "when necessary."After the Waynes are murdered during a robbery in the segregated, Black neighborhoods of Gotham, the police "...shrug." They arrive late, and then assume that Alfred (who is white) was the victim and ask if he was assaulted by the dying, shot couple on the sidewalk, while 11 year old Bruce looks on. By the time they realize who the dying people are, it's too late, and the crooks have gotten away for good.Black Bruce Wayne grows up to be a public face of anti-racist activism, and, as Batman, is the terror of both "crime and police brutality...a problem for the cops and the world of organized criminality, making himself an enemy of both."I would so read this reboot.so as soon as i said you would have to rewrite batman to be black i started thinking about how i would do it. here's what i have.— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) February 1, 2019(via Kottke) Read the rest
France and Germany just cut a deal to save the EU's #CopyrightDirective -- and made it much, much worse (PLEASE SHARE THIS POST!)
The EU's on-again/off-again Copyright Directive keeps sinking under its own weight: on the one side, you have German politicians who felt that it was politically impossible to force every online platform to spend hundreds of millions of euros to buy copyright filters to prevent a user from infringing copyright, even for an instant, and so proposed tiny, largely cosmetic changes to keep German small businesses happy; on the other side, you have French politicians who understand that the CEOs of multinational entertainment companies won't stand for any compromise, or even the appearance of compromise, and so the process fell apart.That is until Chancellor Merkel and President Macron sat down to broker a deal, in which Merkel caved on every single measure that even looked like it might protect small businesses, co-operatives, nonprofits, and individuals, ending up with a deal that guarantees that every existing small platform will be destroyed and no new ones can be started, leaving Europe in the hands of US Big Tech -- forever.Under the new deal, any platform where the public can communicate will have to buy copyright filters to intercept all public communications and compare them to a database of so-called "copyrighted works" (which anyone, anywhere, can add anything to), and then block anything that appears to be a match. Not only will these cost hundreds of millions of euros to develop and maintain, they will also block mountains of legitimate speech -- speech that uses copyrighted works but falls under fair dealing, speech that is incorrectly identified as containing copyrighted works, speech that is deliberately suppressed by trolls, censors and frauds who deliberately claim ownership over works in the public domain, or works that other people hold the copyright to. Read the rest
Keep scratching me, human.
Wolfdog is not ready for you to stop scratching.No human, keep scratching.[via] Read the rest
Instagram to blur self-harm images after Molly Russell's suicide
Molly Russell, 14, took her life in November 2017.
An enlarged prostate could prevent tumors from growing
According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, prostate cancer is a leading cause of death for men in the US. Men who have benign prostatic hyperplasia, which causes their prostate to grow, often take medication or get surgery to reduce the size of it. But a new study reveals that "it might be a bad idea to downsize an enlarged prostate through surgery or drugs," says a press release from Purdue University, "because doing so could lead to faster growth of prostate cancer."Computer simulations of patient data offer a possible explanation of why an enlarged prostate might be a lifesaver: because a prostate can only grow so much within a confined space, force accumulates and puts pressure on the tumor, effectively keeping it small."It's already known that forces and stresses have an impact on tumor growth, and that patients with enlarged prostates tend to have slower cancer growth, but it wasn't known why," said Hector Gomez, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, who builds models and simulations for understanding tumor growth, cellular migration and blood flow.Image: Computer simulations show for the first time that when a patient has a history of an enlarged prostate, tumors in the prostate barely grow at all. University of Pavia/Guillermo Lorenzo Read the rest
How to flip a coin in your head
I love the book Mindhacker: 60 Tips, Tricks, and Games to Take Your Mind to the Next Level, by Ron and Marty Hale-Evans. One of the tips is how to generate pseudorandom numbers in your head. Say you want to flip a coin, but you don't have one. Just think of a short word, and add up the letter values (a=1, b=2 ... z=26). If the sum is even, it's "heads," if it's odd, it's "tails.""Bug" is 2 + 21 + 7 = 30. Heads!The book also shows you how to mentally roll a 6-sided or 10-sided die.Images: Jamesbin/Sudowoodo/Shutterstock Read the rest
Laetitia Ky twists her hair into fantastically intricate, socially conscious art
African artist Laetitia Ky, 22, transforms her hair into fantastic sculptures as a hirsute form of socially-conscious art and, sometimes, just for fun. From CNN:In the Ivory Coast of her childhood, "the norm was to straighten your hair. So when I found the natural movement, I was fascinated. That's when my hair became important for me," she said.Today Ky wears long extensions, adjusting their length depending on the design she wants to create. She sculpts by herself, using little more than wire, wool, a needle and thread. Ky never knows how much time she'll need to complete a project: so far, she said, a single piece has taken anywhere from 20 minutes to up to three hours...Underlying it all, though, is a desire to promote a vision of African beauty grounded in pre-colonial aesthetic traditions; a commitment to body-positivity; and a well-defined feminist politics."Sexism exists everywhere, but in Ivory Coast there's still an attitude that women aren't supposed to be ambitious. My parents divorced when I was young, and my mom did everything on her own. So, it was hard for me to accept, later on, when I started hearing that women belong in the kitchen. I think it's really important to spread a message of equality," Ky said.Laetitia Ky on Instagram (via Weird Universe) View this post on Instagram 📸📸📸📸📸🦋🦋🦋🦋🦋🦋 What a beautiful day ! I tried to catch this little guy but it not easy !!! 😂😍😘 #butterfly #picture #camera #art A post shared by KY (@laetitiaky) on Jun 4, 2018 at 5:49am PDT View this post on Instagram Against gun and violence use love and art ! Read the rest
Four reporters say their news organizations won't let them use the term "racist"
Huffington Post got four reporters on the record (albeit anonymously) to say their editors replace terms like "racist" and "racism" with euphemisms.I was at a media organization that wouldn’t allow me to use “racist” or “bigot” when referring to derogatory comments that Donald Trump made or to his character. Instead, we were told to use mundane euphemisms like “inappropriate” and “discriminatory statements” or descriptive phrases like “his comments caused a stir online” and “drew anger and pushback from people.” ... it was seen as being radical.The why is very straightforward. If it's something many Americans believe, do or say, it cannot be racist. Read the rest
Bug bombs useless for killing roaches: study
They don't kill roaches, but they do cover everything in your house with a film of poison. In a study, bug bombs did nothing useful, at least when it comes to roaches.Scientists set off four kinds of bombs and placed two kinds of baits in 30 infested homes in Raleigh. Twenty homes got one of the four bombs and 10 got one of the two baits. The scientists counted the number of cockroaches before treatment and after, once at 2 weeks and once 1 month later. In every home that had been bombed, cockroach numbers stayed the same, the researchers report this week in BMC Public Health. With one bait, populations dropped by more than half after 2 weeks; with the other, they plummeted by more than 75%. Numbers went down even more after the full month.Here's what worked, according to the study published in BMC Public Health.Only the two bait treatments resulted in significant declines in trap counts relative to baseline (Combat: F2,8 = 12.40, p = 0.0035; Maxforce: F2,8 = 21.37, p = 0.0006) at both two- and four-weeks after the interventionAmazon has them both, as luck would have it. Combat Roach Killer Gel is cheap and comes in straightforward single-use packs. Maxforce is a pro-grade gel bait that comes in tubes or bait stations Read the rest
Tactical slippers
Having noted that you can get tactical pens, tactical cutlery and tactical pants, I wondered if I might also get a pair of tactical slippers and searched the term at Amazon. Behold the Teva Men's M Ember MOC Slipper.* Rubber sole* Rib knit collar with webbing detail* Convertible heel counter* EVA foam midsole for lightweight cusioning* Rubber outsole. Remember the scene from Commando where Arnold Schwarzenegger gears up? Just imagine that, but with a few extra seconds of working a foot lazily into some nice comfy tactical slippers. Read the rest
Fantastic gig posters for scientists' lectures
Bob Goldstein, a professor of cell biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is also a talented graphic designer who creates fantastic "Gig Posters for Scientists" who lecture at the university. These days, Bob and his son do their own screenprinting too! Above:12.5x19 inch hand screenprinted gig poster for distinguished scientist visiting UNC Chapel Hill. This one's got lights... LED lights are powered by 3V lithium-ion button cell batteries that were taped to the back of each poster. Image is based on results reported in this cool paper that showed that doublet microtubules are 2-lane highways. Locomotive image modified from this photo by priceman141, caboose modified from this photo by Roy Winkelman via ClipPix. Read the rest