"We look for the Secret -- the Philosopher's Stone, the Elixir of the Wise, Supreme Enlightenment, 'God' or whatever... and all the time it is carrying us about... It is the human nervous system itself."
― Robert Anton Wilson, Cosmic Trigger
The English and Welsh law allowing the police to stop-and-search people in "exceptional" circumstances was 29.7 times more likely to be used against black people than it is against white people in the past year. According to The Guardian, these stop-and-search stats represent "the worst international record of discrimination involving stop and search." The report was compiled by the London School of Economics and the Open Society Justice Initiative.
The rate of stop-and-search for black people in England and Wales has nearly tripled since 2009, when police and government and everyone else agreed it was a serious problem that should be dealt with. Nice work, everyone!
Less than 0.5 percent of stop-and-searches led to an arrest for possession of a weapon.
Read the rest
On Friday, the IPCC conceded that stop and searches that yield no arrest were antagonistic and "highly intrusive". A legal challenge that will ask the high court to rule section 60 "incompatible" with the European convention on human rights is under way. The case centres on a 37-year-old woman who claims she was targeted because she was black. Michael Oswald of Bhatt Murphy solicitors said there was clear statistical evidence that section 60 was being used in a discriminatory manner. He added: "There are not sufficient safeguards to ensure that the interference with individuals' personal integrity and liberty that such searches entail is proportionate and in accordance with the law."
The case follows the government's curtailment last year of the police use of section 44 counter-terrorism stop-and-search powers, which also allowed officers to act against individuals without reasonable suspicion.
Ranking members of the Obama administration have published a memo condemning the approach taken in SOPA and PIPA, the punishing, pending Internet bills that establish and export a censorship regime in the name of fighting copyright infringement:
We must avoid creating new cybersecurity risks or disrupting the underlying architecture of the Internet. Proposed laws must not tamper with the technical architecture of the Internet through manipulation of the Domain Name System (DNS), a foundation of Internet security. Our analysis of the DNS filtering provisions in some proposed legislation suggests that they pose a real risk to cybersecurity and yet leave contraband goods and services accessible online. We must avoid legislation that drives users to dangerous, unreliable DNS servers and puts next-generation security policies, such as the deployment of DNSSEC, at risk.
Some game developers are raising Kickstarter money to fund a production run of For the Win, a fun-looking tile-game based on net memes. The developers have a good track-record for producing great games funded through Kickstarter:
For The Win is an abstract game at heart, with a solid theme of internet memes applied. Players control a host of characters, playing them to the board and using their powers in order to arrange a group of all 5 types. Each character has thematic abilities in this easy to learn and fast playing game:
* The Zombie turns non-zombies into zombies. * The Pirate shoots people out of cannons, moving them wherever you want. * The Ninja through the power of stealth can disappear and reappear wherever desired. * The Alien utilizes its tractor bean to pull people next to it. * The Monkey messes everything up and toggles all of her neighbors.
Be the first person to get one of each adjacent to each other, FOR THE WIN!
Dominic Girard from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation sez,
It's one thing for Iran to arrest an American and sentence him to death for being a spy. It's a whole other thing when you say the spy made video games as propaganda for the CIA. Yet that's precisely one of the charges Iranian-American Amir Hekmati confessed to on Iranian television in December. (Let's remember that Iran routinely accuses foreigners of being spies, and there's no way of knowing exactly what methods were used to get Hekmati to read out his confession).
Hekmati did once worked with Kuma Games - a New York based game developer. Iran believes Kuma Games are CIA propagandists, that the company makes video games to disseminate a pro-USA message internationally. Some of Kuma Games' offerings are playable scenarios of real-world events. You can be a rebel trying to track down Gadhafi in Libya. You can join Team Six and kill Osama bin Laden. You can also be a soldier inserted in Iran, trying to sabotage their nuclear weapons program. But does that necessarily mean they're a CIA front? This short CBC Radio documentary tries to sort out if the CIA would ever consider such an idea, and if it would even be worth the effort.
On January 18, Boing Boing will join Reddit and other sites around the Internet in "going dark" to oppose SOPA and PIPA, the pending US legislation that creates a punishing Internet censorship regime and exports it to the rest of the world. Boing Boing could never co-exist with a SOPA world: we could not ever link to another website unless we were sure that no links to anything that infringes copyright appeared on that site. So in order to link to a URL on LiveJournal or WordPress or Twitter or Blogspot, we'd have to first confirm that no one had ever made an infringing link, anywhere on that site. Making one link would require checking millions (even tens of millions) of pages, just to be sure that we weren't in some way impinging on the ability of five Hollywood studios, four multinational record labels, and six global publishers to maximize their profits.
If we failed to take this precaution, our finances could be frozen, our ad broker forced to pull ads from our site, and depending on which version of the bill goes to the vote, our domains confiscated, and, because our server is in Canada, our IP address would be added to a US-wide blacklist that every ISP in the country would be required to censor.
This is the part of the post where I'm supposed to say something reasonable like, "Everyone agrees that piracy is wrong, but this is the wrong way to fight it."
But you know what? Read the rest
Here's a good brief look at the state of CyanogenMod, a free/open fork of the Android operating system that lets you do a lot more with your tablet/phone. I really like the way that CyanogenMod exerts force on the Android ecosystem: back when Google was unwilling to ship a tethering app (even for "Google Experience" phones like the Nexus One), CyanogenMod gave users the choice to tether. I think that the number of users who went to the fork freaked out both Google and the carriers, and in any event, tethering quickly became an official feature of Android.
Now CyanogenMod is toying with the idea of a Banned Apps store, consisting of apps that were banned from Google Marketplace for "no good reason" (generally because they threatened Google or the carriers in some way). It's hard for users to get upset about functionality restrictions that they don't know about, but once their friends get the ability to do more, they'll clamor for it, too.
And Google has a strong incentive to keep up with CyanogenMod's functionality: once you've rooted your device and installed a new OS on it for the first time, it's pretty easy to keep on doing it for future devices. I know I worried a lot the first time, and laughed through subsequent installs -- and the process just keeps getting easier. It's really in Google's interest that Android users not get the CyanogenMod habit, and the best way to prevent that is to keep up with CyanogenMod itself, even if it means sacrificing a little profitability, and that's good for users. Read the rest
Sebastian Schmieg of the Netherlands created this video by feeding a transparent image to Google Image Search and asking it to find similar images, and then taking the top result and feeding it back into the similarity algorithm, 2951 times. It's a wonderful look at an evolutionary process.
Bruce Sterling received a phishing email purporting to be a followup to a report of a phishing email. Coming soon: a phishing email purporting to be a phishing email purporting to be a followup to a report of a phishing email.
US-CERT is forwarding the following Phishing email that we received to the APWG for further investigation and processing.
Please check attached report for the details and email source
US-CERT has opened a ticket and assigned incident number PH0000005007349. As your investigation progresses updates may be sent at your discretion to email@example.com and should reference PH0000002359885.
I first read Robert Anton Wilson in 1985, which also happened to be my Weirdest Summer Ever. After freshman year at college back East, I went to Berkeley and lived with my high school girlfriend in Barrington Hall, the most legendary and notorious of Berkeley's student-run co-ops, already sunk into a long sunset of countercultural haze. The place smelled like cat pee and cheap incense, and the cries of weird rituals and speed deals gone awry echoed through hallways covered with wondrous and faded hippie murals. Graffiti captured the unnerving tenor of the place: a large "LSD" had been spray-painted on Haste Street to the north in order to jog the memories of any high-flying trippers who might have made their way to the roof, while a mystical phrase from Lao Tzu -- "Those who know do not say, those who say do not know" -- somehow took on ominous overtones once it was tagged across one wall, a hint of the foreboding secrets and cosmic conspiracies that would nip at my heels all summer long until by the time I fled east I barely escaped without a drug addiction or, even more dangerous, the unspoken Answer to the Riddle.
It didn't help that I spent the summer reading Aleister Crowley, Phil Dick, the Principia Discordia, and Robert Anton Wilson, especially the Illuminatus! Trilogy, Prometheus Rising, and Cosmic Trigger. Or maybe this was the only stuff that actually did help -- and especially RAW, who taught me, as he taught so many others, to nimbly dodge the gravity wells that threaten to suck us down the various informational reality tunnels that make a Swiss cheese of our consensus trance. Read the rest
After repeatedly insisting that establishing a national censoring firewall with DNS-blocking was critical to the Stop Online Piracy Act, the bill's sponsor (and chair of the House Judicial Committee) Rep Lamar Smith has blinked. He's agreed to cut DNS-blocking from the bill, in the face of a threat from rival Rep Darrell Issa, whose House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was preparing to hear expert testimony on the harm that this provision would do to national security and the Internet's robustness against fraud and worse.
Even without its DNS provisions, SOPA remains terminally flawed, creating a regime that would be terminally hostile to any site that contains links and any site that allows the public to post comments on it. But attention has shifted to PIPA, the Senate version of the bill, which is nearly as bad, and which is rocketing towards an imminent vote.
"After consultation with industry groups across the country," Smith said in a statement released by his office, "I feel we should remove DNS-blocking from the Stop Online Piracy Act so that the [U.S. House Judiciary] Committee can further examine the issues surrounding this provision.
"We will continue to look for ways," Smith continued, "to ensure that foreign Web sites cannot sell and distribute illegal content to U.S. consumers."
Smith's decision comes a day after Sen. Patrick Leahy, announced he would strip SOPA's sister bill in the senate, known as the Protect IP Act, of all DNS requirements.
Like, I'm sure, tens of thousands of others, I snapped up the Illuminatus! trilogy when Dell first published it in 1975, reading each volume as it came out, awed by the erudition, the chutzpa, and the sheer lunacy of it. Who were these guys? I reviewed the trilogy in Tales from Texas, a fanzine I edited at the time with my friend Bob Wayne, and talked it up for years. As a result, Austin zine publisher Rick Shannon thought of me when he scored the chance to interview Wilson in April of 1988.
It was a strange evening. Wilson insisted that we conduct the interview over dinner at his hotel. He knew that Rick had virtually no budget, but he insisted that Rick pick up the check and ordered from the top of the menu -- steak and lobster, with wine, if memory serves. He didn't seem fully present to me -- I had the feeling at the time that he wasn't really listening to our questions, that he was talking over us, and delivering set pieces from his repertoire.
But when I sat down with the tape to transcribe it, I had a completely different reaction. The Wilson on the tape seemed compassionate and engaged, prescient and wise. It was like an alternate version of the evening. And when I subsequently approached Wilson to write an original short story for my anti-war anthology, When the Music's Over, he was quite friendly and accommodating.
So, apparently, he was not just covering old ground. Read the rest