Latest stories - Cory Doctorow

23 Hours Ago   After the subprime crisis, vulture funds swept into the hardest-hit areas and bought thousands of foreclosed-upon homes at firesale prices and floated bonds based on the expected returns from the rents they'd be able to charge in an America with the lowest levels of home-ownership in modern history.

23 Hours Ago   MG's Mr Self Destruct project takes the USB Killer to new levels, combining a $1.50 system-on-a-chip with a variety of payloads: smoke bombs, "sound grenades," and little explosives, cleverly choreographed with keystroke emulation, allowing the poisoned drive to first cause the connected computer to foreground a browser and load a web-page that plays an appropriate animation (a jack-in-the-box that plays "Pop Goes the Weasel" with the drive's explosive detonating for the climax).

Yesterday   The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, founded by Elizabeth Warren prior to her career as a senator, was once the gem of the US political system, a consistently effective force for punishing finance industry wrongdoing, until Trump let Wall Street robber barons loose on it, under the direction of a lawyer who represented loan sharks before going to work for the Trump administration.

Yesterday   When Rep Tim Murphy resigned in shame after he was outed for pressuring his mistress to get an abortion while serving on the "House Pro-Life Caucus," it triggered a special election in Pennsylvania's 18th, a rustbelt district in the southwest corner of the state, where a strong Democrat candidate named Conor Lamb is polling high against his Republican opponent, torture advocate Rick Saccone, who served as an Army intelligence support consultant at Abu Ghraib prison after its torture scandal.

Yesterday   Cracked Labs' massive report on online surveillance by corporations dissects all the different ways in which our digital lives are tracked, from the ad-beacons that follow us around the web to the apps that track our physical locations as we move around the world.

Yesterday   https://youtu.be/2bIZ0kWpiD4 Participants in a VRChat room watched as the avatar of one of the participants appeared to go into a grand mal seizure, accompanied by distressed sounds audible through the voice-chat.

Yesterday   https://youtu.be/2jSHKPp-66w Neil Gaiman says Edgar Allan Poe should be read aloud, and he's right: he recorded this video of him reading "The Raven" in 2016 as part of Pat Rothfuss's Worldbuilders charity drive.

Yesterday   Alternative protein advocates in Europe have been stymied by the hodgepodge of national rules regarding insect consumption, but now the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) will approve applications for edible bugs that will then be legal to serve to Europeans throughout the EU.

Yesterday   MP Andrea Leadsom wants the Royal Mail to commemorate Brexit with a postage stamp. Twitter has run with the idea, shooping and tagging with #BrexitStamps, making sure to tag @andrealeadsom.

2 Days Ago   Hospital chain Intermountain Healthcare is leading a industry consortium representing 450 hospitals in total in an initiative to manufacture their own generic drugs, either directly or through subcontractors.

2 Days Ago   Last week, cowards from both sides of the aisle caved into America's lawless spy agencies, and today bipartisan senators reprised that cowardice to ensure that the Senate would not get a chance to vote on amendments to the renewal of Section 702, the rule that has allowed the NSA to conduct mass, warrantless surveillance on Americans in secret, without meaningful oversight or limits.

2 Days Ago   Flybrix kits allow you to turn a variety of Lego builds into little copter-drones that you can fly with an app or a Bluetooth joystick. (more…)

2 Days Ago   Google's Cloud Automl Vision system -- a machine-learning-based image classifier -- is now available to the general public; anyone can sign up to the program, upload a set of 20-10,000 images and train a new model with them, which they can then use.

2 Days Ago   Amazon was the last major tech company to issue a "transparency report" detailing what kinds of law-enforcement requests they'd serviced, and where; when they finally did start issuing them, they buried them on obscure webpages deep in their corporate info site and released them late on Friday afternoons.

2 Days Ago   Hawai'ians and the rest of the world want to understand why they were warned of their imminent demise -- what kind of bad design choices could allow such a thing to happen?

2 Days Ago   Designers Tobias Frere-Jones and Nina Stössinger created Conductor in an homage to "the delicate, blocky numerals from vintage Bulgarian lottery tickets" with "elements of vernacular shopfront lettering and mid-century type design." (via Kottke) (more…)

2 Days Ago   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufOnBRXy3Pc Here's two minutes of Scottish trials cyclist Danny MacAskill doing astounding bike tricks in Düsseldorf, making his bike leap from one narrow ledge to another, climb over walls and fences, and many other feats of daring, coordination and balance.

2 Days Ago   The prohibition on psychedelics was memorably described as "the worst case of scientific censorship since the Catholic Church banned the works of Copernicus and Galileo" by former UK Drugs Czar David Nutt, and despite the ban, there has been a consistent, determined, very promising (sometimes surprising) drumbeat of scientific papers about the use of psilocybin ("magic mushrooms") and other psychedelics in treating a range of chronic illnesses, including mental illnesses.

3 Days Ago   In the UK, many people who live in multiunit buildings -- the sort of thing that would be a condo or co-op in the US -- live under the leaseholder/freeholder system, a relic of feudalism that has been updated for the age of inequality thanks to hedge funds and other socially useless financial engineers.

3 Days Ago   Political scientist and sf fan Henry Farrell (previously) argues persuasively that the dystopian elements of our everyday life are best viewed through the lens of Philip K Dick (whose books repeatedly depicted a world of constructed realities, whose true nature was obscured by totalitarians, conspiracies, and broken computers) and not Orwell or Huxley, whose computers and systems worked altogether too well to be good parallels for today's janky dystopia.

3 Days Ago   A new research report from Kaspersky Labs details their analysis of Skygofree, a newly discovered strain of malware that offers some of the most comprehensive and invasive surveillance tools ever seen for Android.

4 Days Ago   https://vimeo.com/233573799 Joey Eschrich from ASU's Center for Science and Imagination writes, "To celebrate the official 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (previously) on January 1, 2018, we’ve launched Frankenstein200, a free, interactive, multiplatform experience for kids.

4 Days Ago   After Trump's FCC Chairman Ajit Pai rammed through an order killing Net Neutrality -- citing easily disproved lies, ignoring millions of public comments -- activists started pinning their hopes on something called the Congressional Review Act, which gives Congress and the Senate the power to overrule the decisions of regulators from the administrative agencies like the FCC.

4 Days Ago   XML pioneer and early blogger Tim Bray went looking through Google for some posts he knew about from 2006 and 2008 and found that Google couldn't retrieve either of them, not even if he searched for lengthy strings that were exact matches for text from the articles; he concluded that "from a busi­ness point of view, it’s hard to make a case for Google in­dex­ing ev­ery­thing, no mat­ter how old and how obscure," and so we could not longer rely on "Google’s glob­al in­fras­truc­ture as my own per

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