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Last Build Date: Fri, 15 Dec 2017 23:40:41 +0000


A deep dive into the race to preserve our digital heritage

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 20:31:19 +0000


Science Friday's beautiful "File Not Found" series looks at the thorny questions of digital preservation: finding surviving copies of data, preserving the media it is recorded upon, finding working equipment to read that media, finding working software to decode the information once it's read, clearing the rights to archive it, and maintaining safe, long term archives -- all while being mindful of privacy and other equities. (more…)

Trump gives ugly speech saying legal immigrants come from a "bin"

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 19:55:50 +0000


In a speech to graduates of the FBI Academy, Trump talked about calling on Congress to end "chain migration" and "visa lottery," and compared legal immigrants to trash.

"You think the countries [are] givin' us their best people? No. What kind of system is that? They come in by a lottery. They give us their worst people. They put 'em in a bin...really the worst of the worst. 'Congratulations, you're going to the United States.' What a system," he said in part of his speech.

According to Vox:

Donald Trump thinks immigrants are trash, metaphorically speaking.

Not just unauthorized immigrants. Legal immigrants — specifically, those who come to the US on “diversity visas,” after being selected in a lottery for residents of countries that are underrepresented in the US immigration system as a whole.

It’s not surprising that Trump is wrong on the facts — people selected in the visa lottery go through exactly as much screening as any other would-be immigrant to the United States, and the governments of their countries are not deliberately “picking” them to immigrate.

The fact that he spent part of a speech to graduates of the FBI Academy denigrating people who have followed US law is, for better or worse, only slightly more so. Trump’s speeches to law enforcement are often his most unguarded and rip-roaring. They’re the speeches in his official capacity that feel closest to the speeches he delivers at rallies — as if he sees law enforcement officers as part of his base, as close to him as his staunchest supporters.

Documenting the laughable lies the FCC told at the hearing where it killed Net Neutrality

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 19:54:29 +0000


The FCC is only allowed to change existing policies if they can show evidence of some change in facts, so at yesterday's bomb-threat haunted hearing to destroy Net Neutrality, Trump FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his Republican colleagues made a pro-forma recitation of the reasons justifying his extreme actions. (more…)

Motherboard announces a neutral, meshing community ISP based at Vice's Brooklyn headquarters

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 19:40:08 +0000


Motherboard -- an imprint of Vice -- has announced that it will build a community ISP branching off its Brooklyn headquarters, built on meshing wireless protocols, and connected to the internet via high-speed fiber lines terminating at a network exchange. (more…)

After priest/child rape scandal, Australian Archbishop says he'll ask the Pope to allow priests to have sex

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 19:13:07 +0000


As a Royal Commission in Australia wraps up its investigation into decades of rape by priests (especially rape of children), and decades of Church officials obstructing investigation into the rape, Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart says he'll ask the Pope to change the rules so that celibacy for priests is voluntary, not mandatory. (more…)

Thank you for being a friend

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 19:06:11 +0000


All of you.

UPS loses man's inheritance check of nearly $700,000, offers $32 compensation

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 18:48:05 +0000


UPS was supposed to deliver an inheritance check for $664,850 (846,650 Canadian dollars) to a man whose father died. The check never arrived. When UPS lost it, they decided $32 was fair compensation.

According to Fortune:

Lorette Taylor’s father had died and left his children a large chunk of cash, which Taylor, as executor, had to divide between herself and two siblings. When she tried to do so in February, her bank—TD Canada Trust—said it was best to send her brother and sister bank drafts (similar to personal checks, but considered more secure as they are guaranteed by the bank instead of by the person issuing them).

One of the drafts, in the order of 846,650 Canadian dollars ($664,850), was destined for her brother, Louis Paul Hebert, who hired UPS to ship it to his local store, 270 miles away from the family lawyer. The package never arrived.

Ten months later, the Ontario family complained to the media that all UPS had offered by way of compensation was $32, representing the mailing costs. According to CBC News’s report, TD Canada Trust refused to reimburse Taylor the money unless she agreed to refund the bank if someone found and cashed in the lost draft. It wanted her house to be the security for the agreement.

It wasn't until the news went viral that TD Canada Trust backed down from the collateral demand and sent a new bank draft.

And it wasn't until the news went viral that both UPS and TD Canada Trust suddenly became humble.

“While UPS’ service is excellent in our industry, we are unfortunately not perfect,” UPS said. You could say that again.

And TD Canada "Trust": “It’s clear to us we didn’t get this right along the way and that there was more we could have done to come to a resolution faster.” Mm-hmm.

Image: Qualle

Comcast has been planning to ditch Net Neutrality principles for months

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 18:06:35 +0000


In defending his vote to dismantle Net Neuratlity rules, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai insisted that not much would change for consumers; ISPs would voluntarily refrain from degrading internet service.

Michael Powell, president of the telecom lobbyist N.C.T.A., wrote that the good ol' invisible hand of the free market would ensure that the principles of net neutrality would still be adhered to: "Degrading the internet, blocking speech and trampling what consumers now have come to expect would not be profitable, and the public backlash would be unbearable. Economic self-interest and the pursuit of profits tilts decidedly toward an open internet."

Never mind that ISPs often act as local monopolies, immune to competition, and have already been convicted of breaching Net Neutrality on a huge scale, multiple times, affecting 100 million Americans while it was illegal to do so.

Of course, ISPs have actually been planning to toss Net Neutrality principles out the window once the rules were revoked, for months.

While Net Neutrality rules were firmly in place, Comcast had this pledge on its website for years, and as late as April 25, 2017 (according to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine):


On April 26, Ajit Pai announced a vote the start the process of eliminating Net Neutrality rules.

On April 27, Comcast somehow had a change of heart regarding its fidelity to Net Neutrality principles, and its website's commitments were suddenly missing a few key promises (see the date in the upper right corner). Those promises are still absent from its website today.

(image) Where is the invisible hand of the free market, preventing Comcast from staying faithful to net neutrality? Nowhere to be seen.

See Ars Technica, h/t Jon Henshaw

Watch: Cyclist finds nearly dead puppy, works frantically to bring it back to life

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 17:58:33 +0000


This puppy looked so far gone, I don't think most people would have thought they could bring it back to life. But the determined, resourceful cyclist who found the pup did everything right, including cutting off the bottom of a water bottle and then using it as a tube to breath air into the puppy's mouth. The incredible rescue in this video is hard to watch, but seems to have a happy ending – I only wish we could find out how the puppy is doing now.

Tobacco giant Philip Morris is quietly funding an "anti-smoking" foundation offering $1 billion in "grants" to public health leaders

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 17:52:36 +0000


Derek Yach, president of The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, sent a letter to 344 public health researchers and groups inviting them to bid for grants from a $1b fund set up by tobacco giant -- the list was a roster of Yach's former colleagues from his stint at the World Health Organization. (more…)

Even when a Chicago cop is convicted of wrongdoing, a secret appeals court usually overturns it

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 17:29:41 +0000


Chicago boasts one of the nation's most corrupt police forces: Chicago PD ran an off-the-books secret torture site; stole millions from innocents and used the funds to buy illegal surveillance gear; has more than 125,000 outstanding abuse complaints; conducted an illegal extortion racket and a coverup that went to the highest levels; is systemically racist and corrupt; a force that tolerates cops who cover up and celebrate murder (no surprise that the force trained the ex-Gitmo torturer who beat Dr David Dao unconscious for refusing to give up his seat on a United flight). (more…)

What does a Jedi use to open a PDF file?

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 17:27:14 +0000


What does a Jedi use to open a PDF file?

Adobe-Wan Kenobi.

Watch: Trump judicial nominee can't answer a single question properly at hearing

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 17:19:30 +0000


Trump sure knows how to pick 'em. This judiciary nominee, Matthew Spencer Petersen, up for a seat on the US District Court for the District of Columbia, was completely out of his element when asked basic questions at his hearing by GOP Sen. John Kennedy. In fact, he can't answer a single question the way someone qualified for the job should answer. The poor fellow looks awkward and uncomfortable, to say the least.

"Have you ever tried a jury trial?" Kennedy asked.

"I have not," Petersen said.





"State or federal court?"

"I have not."

"Do you know what a motion in limine is?"

"My background is not in litigation. I haven't had to do a deep dive."

And it goes on and on.

According to CNN:

Petersen's testimony followed the narrow confirmation of another one of the president's judicial nominees, Leonard Steven Grasz, to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals despite the fact that he had received a "not qualified" rating from the American Bar Association.

The White House said earlier this week that it would withdraw the nomination of Brett Talley who was also unanimously rated by the ABA as "not qualified." He was originally nominated to serve as a district judge in Alabama. The administration is also withdrawing the name of Jeff Mateer, who was up for a seat on the district court in Texas, following comments that have surfaced where he called transgender children part of "Satan's plan."

Cryptocurrency: From Basic Definitions to Expert Issues in One Interview

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 16:54:31 +0000

You’d have to be living in some kind of a news blackout not to have heard chatter about cryptocurrencies recently. The granddaddy of ‘em all – BitCoin – has appreciated roughly 2000% over the past twelve months. This puts the total value of all BitCoin close $300B, making it more valuable than roughly 490 of the companies in the Fortune 500 – and far more valuable than any of the banks that were deemed too big to fail during the financial crisis. So what in the world is going on here? As with all large markets, nobody fully knows. But my interviewee in today’s podcast, Fred Ehrsam, knows this area better than almost anyone. In 2012, he co-founded Coinbase, which is by far the world’s largest consumer-friendly service for storing and trading cryptocurrencies (though its users include many large nonconsumers as well). Although our interview is a spontaneous conversation, Fred and I both put methodical thought into sequencing our topics, as well as the level of depth that we treat each with. The result is a robust introduction for who know nothing about cryptocurrencies, which can also truly fire the neurons of experts in this field. Will AI’s start running on the block chain? Could a full-fledged Uber, Lyft, or AirBnB competitor exist as a cloud-based Smart Contract? And how might the emergence of Ethereum stand in certain a line of historic events that stretches back before the Bronze Age? Those who don’t yet know what a blockchain or a smart contract are should be able to follow the entire conversation, clear through to its complex and rather mindbending conclusions, just by listening carefully (although probably not on 2x speed!). In fact, even if you have only the vaguest conception of cryptocurrencies, parsing all of this could bring you close to a top-percentile understanding of them. You can hear it by searching “After On” in your favorite podcast app, or by clicking right here: style="border: none" src="//" height="90" width="100%" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen> Because Fred is so generous and patient in his baseline explanations (for which I’m hugely grateful), stone-cold crypto experts may want to enter the interview around the half-hour mark. That said, I thought I fully grokked the stuff at the start of the episode myself – but talking it through with Fred brought up all kinds of intriguing nuances. So it may be worth a listen for anyone. A quick point of disclosure: I hold a cryptocurrency position myself as an investor. I don’t believe that influenced this interview in any way. But I should point this out anyway, because who really knows what lurks in the subconscious? Also, I can – strangely enough – guarantee that my holdings did not influence my decision to conduct this interview. Because when I first reached out to Fred last month, I was under the false impression that I had long since sold my cryptocurrency. The background research I did for this interview revealed that I’d actually failed to sell it (which is fine, as it turns out). [...]

Leaked Mormon Church booklet for leaders claims masturbation turns you gay

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 16:45:26 +0000


Remember when the fear of going blind or growing hair on your palms was enough to make you stop masturbating? Neither do I, but apparently The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been spreading a much more “terrifying” myth since the eighties that self pleasure makes you gay.

A recently leaked booklet on homosexuality (second edition) for church leaders suggests “early” masturbation could cause adolescents to become gay, according to Newsweek. “Early masturbation experiences introduce the individual to sexual thoughts which may become habit forming and reinforcing to homosexual interests,” according to the booklet.

Other absurd declarations about homosexuality included moms coddling their sons could turn them gay, and that it “may involve violent or criminal behavior.”

The church has since shifted a bit by allowing people with “same sex attraction” to at least be able to participate in the church, but homosexual acts “violate” Mormon law, according to its website. Masturbation also still seems out of the question.

Image: versageek

Streaming porn might not be helping the environment

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 16:27:14 +0000


If the guilt of sneaking off into the basement bathroom to watch a few porn videos on your smartphone wasn’t enough, now avid smut viewers can carry the potential concern of harming the environment.

Long gone are the days of high-grossing pornographic DVDs, and The Atlantic raises an interesting possibility that the energy required to stream such vast amounts of porn takes a larger environmental toll than pre-digital consumption.

Via the Atlantic:

Using a formula that Netflix published on its blog in 2015, Nathan Ensmenger, a professor at Indiana University who is writing a book about the environmental history of the computer, calculates that if Pornhub streams video as efficiently as Netflix (0.0013 kWh per streaming hour), it used 5.967 million kWh in 2016. For comparison, that’s about the same amount of energy 11,000 light bulbs would use if left on for a year. And operating with Netflix’s efficiency would be a best-case scenario for the porn site, Ensmenger believes.

Adult film companies suggest porn clips are being viewed at much higher rates when compared to peak DVD sales, although sales of pornography have not been typically archived as a whole in the industry, and the same goes for “accurate” streaming data.

It’s an unusual thought that an industry forced to move to the digital age might be more damaging to the environment than its previous manufacturing and distribution methods. Ensmenger "agrees that the numbers are nebulous at best," according to The Atlantic. "But like Dines, he still thinks these questions are worth asking, even if only to raise awareness that internet porn does take an environmental toll."

Image: Daily Sunny

Off-the-wall Harry Potter chapter created using predictive text

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 16:08:51 +0000


The Harry Potter series has an unusual new chapter and J.K. Rowling didn't write it, machines did. Botnick Studios, a "human-machine creative collective" which describes itself as "a community of writers, artists and developers collaborating with machines to create strange new things," created a predictive keyboard that later penned the unauthorized chapter. By "training" the keyboard on all seven Harry Potter titles, machines were able to write this humorous new work.

Harry Potter and the Portrait of what Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash is the fabricated book's title and the faux chapter is called, "The Handsome One."

Here's a few quotes from its ghostwritten pages:

"Magic: it was something that Harry Potter thought was very good."

"Ron's shirt was just as bad as Ron himself."

"The pig of Hufflepuff pulsed like a large bullfrog. Dumbledore smiled at it, and placed his hand on its head: 'You are Hagrid now.'"

"'The password was BEEF WOMEN,' Hermione cried."

Read the entire chapter here. Be sure to take a look at Botnick's other work, like this predictive text Thanksgiving dinner video.

("BEEF WOMEN" will now be my new password.)

If Santa had a raunchy Netflix comedy special

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 16:08:44 +0000


Hey Santa, 1983 called. Eddie Murphy wants his tight red leather suit back.

This Team Coco bit imagines Santa Claus telling off-color jokes for a stand-up comedy special on Netflix called, "Sack Up! Santa Live!" It's so wrong.

Nativity cow in second bid for freedom

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 15:55:47 +0000


Stormy the cow was recaptured after again escaping the Philadelphia nativity scene in which she is imprisoned. The bovine's second bid for freedom ended after she was found about a block away from the Old City historical neighborhood. Her first saw her reach the I-95 highway, where police surrounded her with cars and summoned a "cow expert" -- do they mean a farmer? -- to help return her to the festive corrall.

There is already a Stormy the Escaped Nativity Cow Twitter account.

The Quantum Game: like Laser Maze, but built on real principles of quantum mechanics

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 15:48:34 +0000


Laser Maze is a super-fun electronic board game that challenges players to arrange angled mirrors to route a laser beam from an emitter to a sensor, avoiding obstacles; in The Quantum Game, you undertake the same fundamental task, but with a virtual laser that only emits one photon, and virtual beam-splitters, absorbtive polarizers, quarter-wave plates, polarizing beam splitters, Faraday rotators, and other exotic apparatus. (more…)

Here's everything that's wrong with America's insecure electronic voting machines, and what to do about it

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 15:27:24 +0000


The University of Pennsylvania's Matt Blaze (previously) is a legendary figure in cryptography and security circles; most recently he convened Defcon's Vote Hacking Village where security experts with no particular knowledge of voting machines repeatedly, fatally hacked surplus voting machines of the sort routinely used in US elections. (more…)

Fill your home with Star Wars gear — just in time for The Last Jedi

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 15:00:20 +0000

To celebrate the upcoming release of The Last Jedi, we’re offering a selection of Star Wars-themed interior decorations in the Boing Boing Store for 15% off the usual retail value — all you have to do is enter coupon code GIFTSHOP15 during checkout. Here’s what you can get: 3D Mega Lamps These custom-fabricated LED lamps light up the darkness with eye-catching 3D illusions. They’re modeled after a handful of fan-favorite ships and characters, so you can choose one that best matches your digs. If you strongly identify with heroic outlaws like Han and Chewie, you can get one shaped like the iconic Millennium Falcon. Alternatively, anyone who respects the brutal authoritarianism of the empire will die for a 3D Death Star lamp. And for the pacifist droid lovers, we’ve even got one shaped like gravity-defying BB-8. Each one of these 3D Mega Lamps goes for $39.99, but you can take an extra 15% off with code GIFTSHOP15. Star Wars 3D DIY Metal Sculptures Give your office desk some galactic flair with a statue of your favorite Star Wars spacecraft. After choosing which side of the force you’re on, you can put these metal sculptures together yourself. They come in a variety of classic shapes, including X-Wing, TIE Fighter, and Imperial Star Destroyer. Save 15% off our normal $9.99 price when you enter GIFTSHOP15 at checkout. Star Wars Art These wall hangings are printed on high-quality 100 lb archival paper, so you can be sure that they’ll last. This artwork is by illustrator Devin Schoeffler, and it depicts memorable scenes from the original trilogy like Luke’s training in the Dagobah system, and the the Empire’s assault on Hoth. These posters are in the Boing Boing Store for $19.99, but you can save an additional 15% with code GIFTSHOP15.[...]

Doctors diagnose the bad guys' injuries in 'Home Alone'

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 14:27:44 +0000


Remember how the bad guys got battered on by little Kevin's (Macaulay Culkin) booby traps in the Home Alone series?

Well, in these videos from 2015, a group of real-life doctors watched clips from both early 1990s holiday flicks and gave their professional opinion on what life-altering injuries the movie's burglars, Marv (Daniel Stern) and Harry (Joe Pesci), would have sustained. It ain't pretty.

(Tastefully Offensive)

'Hank Hill' sings Red Hot Chili Peppers and it's so good

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 14:27:41 +0000


This one is an oldie but a goodie. From 11 years ago, here's YouTuber EmperorCalebtine singing Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Soul to Squeeze" as cartoon dad Hank Hill. It's so good, isn't it? (reddit)

Circuit Maze Logic Game

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 14:27:31 +0000


When I was a child my favorite game was Mousetrap because the experience wasn't simply about rolling dice and moving around a board.  Rather, it was an invitation to construct environments with the reward of something special happening.

I still enjoy games where you build but I especially love it when they offer clever, valuable lessons as well.  Circuit Maze teaches spacial reasoning and electrical engineering with simple to understand concepts.  As you play, the levels naturally get more difficult and are challenging even to adults.


If your child is interested in games at even higher tech levels, there's also a game series called CODE  that teaches the valuable superpower of computer coding concepts.  I only wish I had access to these games when I was young.

Moebius's photo reference

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 12:54:54 +0000


In an unsourced interview reposted at Ragged Claws, Jean "Moebius" Giraud discusses his use of photo reference (more) — a popular topic of late among amateur numpties who think it's "cheating." (image)

Update: Disney!

Gorgeous low-profile miniature mechanical Planck keyboard

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 12:26:57 +0000


It won't be arriving in time for Easter, let alone Christmas, but this keyboard features three particularly fabulous qualities: the tiny 40% size, the unstaggered grid layout, and a new type of keyswitch that's both mechanical and low-profile. $150 at Massdrop.

Note: The base price is for the assembled Planck Light. It comes in black with tactile switches, black alphas, and white modifiers; in navy with clicky switches, white alphas, and black modifiers; or in silver with linear switches, white alphas, and black modifiers. At checkout, you can get the unassembled kit with your choice of any of the above combinations—including all blank semi-translucent white keycaps—for (- $10). You can also add a carrying sleeve for (+ $8). If you select an assembled keyboard, the other selections at checkout will not apply.

IMPORTANT: Note that it "beeps and boops."

Also notable, the PCB is outfitted with a dual-channel speaker that can play two notes at once (an upgrade from the previous version). In the default firmware this will make a few different noises—like a short series of beeps on startup, notifications when you put the board into Device Firmware Upgrade (DFU) mode, plus noises when you change the default layout to prevent mishaps when typing quickly. The speaker can be disabled by flashing new firmware. A noiseless version of the default firmware is available on the GitHub.

(Here is my own planck setup) (image)


Fri, 15 Dec 2017 12:09:25 +0000


The apotheosis of ASMR. [via Reddit]