51 Minutes Ago It's been a year since the Asian-American band The slants won their court case against the US Patent and Trademark office, which had refused to allow them to trademark their band-name because it was a racial slur.
3 Hours Ago The Wildbook project conducts wild animal population censuses by combining photos of animals taken by tourists, scientists, and volunteers and then using their distinctive features (zebra stripes, whale fluke shapes, leopard spots, etc) to identify individuals and produces unprecedented data that uses creepy facial recognition tools for non-creepy purposes.
9 Hours Ago Patrick Costello (previously) writes, "I had to go through a 25 hr EEG, but I didn't let the wires glued to my head stop me from posting my weekly frailing banjo workshop."
9 Hours Ago https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Rs1B8V4vx0 When Yale psych professor Laurie Santos offered a course in how to be happy -- based on the latest peer-reviewed science -- she hoped that a reasonable number of students would sign up (after all, the literature suggested that there is an epidemic of depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation among US college students); the course was the most successful in Yale's history, with one in four students enrolling (more…)
9 Hours Ago https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20LY1316IM8 Yesterday, I saw a demo of the Homebiogas bioreactor: it's essentially an artificial stomach that uses colonies of microbes to digest your home food waste (it can do poop, too, but people tend to be squeamish about this), providing enough clean-burning biogas to cook your next meal, heat your house, or run a generator -- what's left behind is excellent fertilizer.
9 Hours Ago People who help domestic abuse survivors say that they are facing an epidemic of women whose abusers are torturing them by breaking into their home smart devices, gaslighting them by changing their thermostat settings, locking them out of their homes, spying on them through their cameras.
Yesterday Shenzhen Gwelltimes Technology Co., Ltd is the white-label vendor behind a whole constellation of Internet of Things networked home cameras sold as security cameras, baby monitors, pet monitors, and similar technologies; these cameras are designed to be monitored by their owners using an app, and because of farcically bad default passwords ("123") and other foolish security practices (such as sequentially numbering each camera, allowing attackers to enumerate vulnerable devices), the devices are
Yesterday A group of elite Google Cloud engineers simply refused to put any work into an airgap system designed to let the company bid on sensitive military contracts, which undermined the company's ability to seek military work.
2 Days Ago Kris Kobach (previously) is a racist shitbag who engineered Red State America's voter suppression campaign; he is also (predictably enough) the Kansas Secretary of State, in which capacity he has been representing his office in a lawsuit over his unconstitutional voter ID law.
2 Days Ago The New York Times doesn't like to call Donald Trump (who is a compulsive liar) a liar; they deploy the squeamish euphemism "falsely claimed" in place of "lied" -- with Gabriel Gironda's NYT Speak Chrome extension (source code here), you can remedy this situation.
2 Days Ago A team at MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering have created a set of foldable, 3D printed robots that are doped with magnetic particles that are precisely aligned during printing; when triggered by a control-magnet they engage in precise movements: grabbing, jumping, rolling, squeezing, etc.
2 Days Ago The Supreme Court has ruled in the closely watched Carpenter v. United States case, which questioned the constitutionality of warrantless location surveillance, a widespread practice among US law enforcement and surveillance agencies.
2 Days Ago Canadian border guards' terminals give them secret access to Tuscan, a database maintained by US spy agencies of suspected terrorists; the database has some 680,000 names in it and if you match one of those names, Canadian border and immigration officials are empowered to "detain, interrogate, arrest and deny entry" to you.
2 Days Ago On Wednesday, the Legislative Committee of the European Union narrowly voted to keep the two most controversial internet censorship and surveillance proposals in European history in the upcoming revision to the Copyright Directive -- as soon as July Fourth, the whole European Parliament could vote to make this the law of 28 EU member-states.
3 Days Ago Wednesday's vote to press ahead with mandatory copyright filters for the European internet is catastrophic for the web: starting a new business just got $60-100 million more expensive, because building filters for every kind of copyrighted work ain't cheap.
3 Days Ago The Community Microscope is a fully-funded, crowdfunded open source microscope hardware kit built around a digital camera: it costs $39 and snaps together in 15 minutes.
3 Days Ago Remember when conservatives were into "family values" and defending their families from Big Government intrusions, like breaking up families over refusal to obey the law on education, vaccination, corporal punishment, etc?
3 Days Ago Jason Kessler, organizer of last summer's violent, murderous "unite the right" rally in Charlottesville, has received preliminary National Parks Service approval to stage a "white civil rights rally" in Washington, DC, on Aug 11-12.
3 Days Ago An "outside White House adviser" told Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman that Stephen Miller, the architect of the ICE child kidnapping program actively enjoys the photos of terrified, miserable children in cages: "Stephen actually enjoys seeing those pictures at the border.
3 Days Ago The largest, wealthiest cities in America are filling up with tent cities -- especially on the west coast, where East Coast style right-to-shelter laws are rare -- and if the spectacle of human misery doesn't alarm you, perhaps you should be thinking about communicable disease epidemics.
3 Days Ago After switching computers and phones, Henry Grabar tried not logging into Facebook for nine days; the company's systems noticed and embarked on a relentless campaign of email harassment, automatically emailing him with algorithmically created enticements that were supposed to make him so curious about what all his "friends" were getting up to that he logged back in. (more…)
3 Days Ago After decades of back-and-forth over internet freedom, China has figured out a method for allowing people to use the internet for social and business purposes, but not for political reform -- a combination of huge boiler-rooms full of censors, centralization of internet services under tight government control, and control over standards to ensure that surveillance and censorship are always possible.
3 Days Ago https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBknF2yUZZ8&t=199s Bejamin "Mako" Hill (previously) is a free software developer, activist and academic with a long history of shrewd critical insights into the ways that free software, free culture and the wider world interact with each other.
4 Days Ago In the five years since I first wrote about "Autonomous sensory meridian response" (ASMR) a folk-neurological condition that describes the pleasant shivers some people experience when hearing certain soft noises, ASMR has gone mainstream -- my ten year old daughter describes the texture of the slime she makes as "really ASMR." (more…)