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Studios regret sending Google a list of every pirate site on the Internet for publication

The movie studios send a lot of takedown notices to Google, demanding that the search engine remove links to sites and files they don't like. Google publishes all the notices they receive, and this has Fox and other studios upset. Now, they're sending takedown notices demanding removal of their takedown notices. Cory

American public schools in 9 states sharing every conceivable personal detail of their students with third parties


Update: A PR person who has apparently been retained to represent inBloom strenuously objected to Greg's characterization of her client's practices below. She sent me an email, which I've posted to the comments. I've also made a factual correction, regarding constraints, below (look for the strikethrough)

Greg Costikyan sez,

inBloom, a Gates-funded non-profit to harness data to improve grade school education, has partnered with New York and eight other states to encourage the development of apps to "further education" by using intimate data about students, without parental consent and with no ability for parents to opt out.

Among the data shared are name, address, phone numbers, test scores, grades, economic status, test scores, disciplinary records, picture, email, race, developmental delay... just about everything conceivable, and all specific, none of it anonymized. inBloom has arrangements with nine states (New York, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Colorado, Illinois, North Carolina, Georgia, Delaware and Kentucky) to do this.

The XML schema used are downloadable here. Anyone can register as a developer and start using "sample" data, but "real" data is supposedly only available to developers with contracts with a school board. But this includes for-profit, third party developers, such as, say, Amplify, a News Corp subsidiary with a contract with New York. And it doesn't appear there are any constraints on their use of this data. Ed: apparently constraints can be imposed by districts and states, though the system can allow unconstrained access if the district/state chooses.

Who is Stockpiling and Sharing Private Information About New York Students? (Thanks, Greg!)

Interview with Justin "The Viking" Wren about his work with the Congo’s Pygmy people

Matt Staggs says: "Heavyweight UFC fighter and 'The Ultimate Fighter' star Justin 'The Viking' Wren has just taken on the fight of his life: Free the Congo’s Pygmy people from oppression and slavery. How will he do it? Learn in this episode of the DisinfoCast, and then join the fight

."

DisinfoCast 50: Justin “The Viking” Wren: Fight for the Forgotten

How to make a gravity puzzle

Here's a puzzle you can make, in which you have to balance 14 nails on a single nail head. (Thanks, Matthew!)

How far away from Earth is Mars?

D.S. Deboer says "Check this out! It's neat and really helped me grasp how far away Mars is. (Hint: It's really, really, really far away.)"

How Far is it to Mars?

(Ben shared this in the Google + Boing Boing Community. Join us there for fun link sharing and conversation!)

How geeks can get involved in politics (and why they should)

Thomas Gideon, host of the Command Line podcast and technical director of the Open Technology Institute at New America Foundation gave a great speech at the Northeast Linux Fest. His talk, which is outlined in detail here, was about getting free software geeks involved in political activism, and was a thoughtful explanation of the differences between the way free software stuff gets done and the way that Congress gets stuff done. (MP3) Cory

Wealth disparity in America: an inch of bar-graph for the 90%, 4.9 miles' worth for the top 0.01%


Here's a rather graphic representation of the growth in income inequality in the USA since the 1960s; plotted on a chart where the income growth of the bottom 90 percent is represented by an inch-high bar; the growth of the top 10 percent needs a 163 foot-tall bar; while the top 0.01% need a 4.9 mile-high bar to represent their real wealth growth in the same period.

The income growth and shrinkage figures come from analysis of the latest IRS data by economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty, who have won acclaim for their studies of worldwide income patterns over the last century.

In 2011 entry into the top 10 percent, where all the gains took place, required an adjusted gross income of at least $110,651. The top 1 percent started at $366,623.

The top 1 percent enjoyed 81 percent of all the increased income since 2009. Just over half of the gains went to the top one-tenth of 1 percent, and 39 percent of the gains went to the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent.

Ponder that last fact for a moment -- the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent, those making at least $7.97 million in 2011, enjoyed 39 percent of all the income gains in America. In a nation of 158.4 million households, just 15,837 of them received 39 cents out of every dollar of increased income.

Income Inequality: 1 Inch to 5 Miles (Thanks, Spider!)

Montreal police arrest young woman for instagramming photo of anti-police mural

Jennifer Pawluck, a 20 year old woman from Montreal, was taken into police custody yesterday and questioned after she posted a photo of a graffiti mural on her Instagram. The mural showed a caricature of a Montreal police spokesman called Cmdr. Ian Lafrenière, with a bullet hole in his head.

After she posted the image to Instagram, police came to her house and took her in for questioning, releasing her several hours later. The police say that there are secret reasons they detained her, beyond taking a picture of graffiti and posting it, but they won't say what they are.

Pawluck participated in the mass student demonstrations in Montreal and was part of the ensuing mass arrests. She will have to appear in court on April 17, and is barred from going with a kilometer of police HQ and from communicating with Cmdr Lafrenière. She has not been charged.

Lafrenière is the head of the service's communications division and frequently appeared in the media during the student protests.

Pawluck said that when the picture was taken, she didn’t know who Lafrenière was, but she found the image interesting.

Montreal police confirmed that a young woman was arrested at her home Wednesday and brought to the police station to be questioned by investigators. They did not name Pawluck.

Instagram anti-police pic sharing tied to Montrealer's arrest [CBC]

Life imitates "Fringe" with development of brain-to-brain interface

Scientists managed to link the brains of a conscious human and an anesthetized rat, allowing the human to wiggle the rat's tail with his thoughts. And all God's creatures said, "Holy shitballs!" Maggie

Read mystery novels to learn chemistry

Deborah Blum — my favorite expert in the fine art of poisoning — writes a fascinating piece about the way mystery writers like Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers approached the chemistry in their stories with an almost mind-blowing accuracy. Not only did they get the symptoms of specific poisons correct, they were actually describe common chemical tests and techniques right in the narrative. Maggie

When your heart was just a tube

I've been linking Double X Science a lot lately. That's because they're great. It's rare to get such smart, fascinating, science-centered discussion about female anatomy and reproductive issues that goes beyond the surface dressing we all already kind of know. Case in point: This piece by Emily Willingham about the development of the human heart in utero. You've probably heard at one point or another that a fetus' heart starts beating around 6 weeks (an age which is, by the way, calculated from the date of the mother's last period, NOT from the date of actual conception; so the fetus itself is really only about 4 weeks old at this point, and its mother only missed her period two weeks ago). But what's the heart actually like at that point? Turns out, absolutely nothing like what you imagine. Very cool stuff. Maggie

Roger Ebert, 1942–2013

NPR:

Roger Ebert, the legendary film critic, died today, his long-time employer, The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting. Ebert had been wrestling with cancer for years. He had lost his voice and his jaw, but he still kept up an unrelenting pace, reviewing more than 200 movies a year for the paper. On his blog and on twitter, he chronicled his struggle with cancer and just two days ago, he penned a post saying he was taking a "leave of presence."

Awkward science stock photography

A collection of evidence suggesting that the people who take stock photographs have absolutely no idea what the process of science looks like, beyond a vague understanding that it probably involves white coats (and also beakers full of liquid).

A cat video about the science of cats

Two things I learned from this video:
1: I am my cat's Facebook page. That rubbing-up-against-you-and-leaving-scent thing? It's not just to mark you as "theirs". It's also a way of communicating information about themselves to other cats that you might encounter.
2: My cats poop in a box and bury it as a gesture of submissiveness to me. Good cats.

Paying patent trolls off makes you complicit in the next round of extortion

Joel Spolsky's editorial on patent trolls is fabulous. As he points out, the developers who pay relatively small sums to make patent trolls just go away are part of the problem, and complicit in the next round of extortion. Paying mobsters keeps them viable, and able to attack new victims:

In the face of organized crime, civilized people don’t pay up. When you pay up, you’re funding the criminals, which makes you complicit in their next attacks. I know, you’re just trying to write a little app for the iPhone with in-app purchases, and you didn’t ask for this fight to be yours, but if you pay the trolls, giving them money and comfort to go after the next round of indie developers, you’re not just being “pragmatic,” you have actually gone over to the dark side. Sorry. Life is a bit hard sometimes, and sometimes you have to step up and fight fights that you never signed up for.

Civilized people don’t pay up. They band together, and fight, and eliminate the problem. The EFF is launching a major initiative to reform the patent system. At Stack Exchange, we’re trying to help with Ask Patents, which will hopefully block a few bad patents before they get issued.

The Application Developers Alliance (of which I am currently serving as the chairman of the board) is also getting involved with a series of Developer Patent Summits, a nationwide tour of 15 cities, which will kick off a long term program to band together to fight patent trolls. Come to the summit in your city—I’ll be at the San Francisco event on April 9th—and find out what you can do to help.

The Patent Protection Racket (via Copyfight)