Predatory "scientific journals" tricked into publishing Star Wars-themed hoax

Robbo writes, "A number of so-called scientific journals have accepted a Star Wars-themed spoof paper. The manuscript is an absurd mess of factual errors, plagiarism and movie quotes. We know this because Neuroskeptic wrote it and posted about it on the Discover Magazine site. The paper was about Midi-chlorians and attributed to Dr Lucas McGeorge and Dr Annette Kin. Neuroskeptic takes us through the process used to create the bogus paper and the varied repsonses from the half-assed 'peer review' journals who accepted the work." Read the rest

Security researcher arrested after he warns Hungarian transit company about their dumb mistake

A teenager discovered that the website of Budapesti Közlekedési Központ -- the public transit authority in Budapest -- would allow you to edit the price you paid for your tickets, so that purchasers could give themselves massive discounts on their travel, and when he told the authority about it, they had him arrested and issued a press-release boasting about it. Read the rest

Student loans are really "a list of people liable to additional taxation after graduation"

In an open letter to Jeremy Corbyn, Neil Wilson explains how Labour can frame its policy on student debt forgiveness after they take power and abolish tuition fees. Read the rest

Arbitrary Stupid Goal: a memoir of growing up under the tables of the best restaurant in New York

To call Shopsin's "a Greenwich Village institution" was to understate something profound and important and weird and funny: Shopsin's (first a grocery store, later a restaurant) was a kind of secret reservoir of the odd and wonderful and informal world that New York City once represented, in the pre-Trumpian days of Sesame Street and Times Square sleaze: Tamara Shopsin grew up in Shopsin's, and Arbitrary Stupid Goal is her new, "no-muss memoir," is at once charming and sorrowing, a magnificent time-capsule containing the soul of a drowned city.

Come see me at San Diego Comic-Con!

There are three more stops on my tour for Walkaway: tomorrow at San Diego Comic-Con, next weekend at Defcon 25 in Las Vegas, and August 10th at the Burbank Public Library. Read the rest

Trump's latest senior science nominees are a talk-radio ignoramus and a career poisoner

The Department of Agriculture's chief scientist oversees more than 1,000 scientists in 100 research facilities: Trump's pick to run the agency is Sam Clovis, a climate-denying talk-radio host who not only lacks any kind of scientific degrees -- he didn't take a single science course at university. Read the rest

George RR Martin, 1993 "The fantasy novel I've been working on off and on for a while" is an unlikely project for TV

Scott Edelman writes, "I interviewed George R. R. Martin at a Thai restaurant on Episode 42 of my Eating the Fantastic podcast (MP3), and after I returned home, remembered I'd also interviewed him back in 1993. After digging out the tape, I couldn't resist incorporating his amusing admission about 'a fantasy novel I've been working on off and on for a while' as part of the episode." Read the rest

To attract customers, Toronto hotel removes the TRUMP name

As I wrote about last month, the hotelier who operates the Toronto property bearing Trump's name was desperate enough to get shut of it that they had bid millions for the right to change the name of the hotel. Read the rest

Peak no-fucks-given Jeff Sessions boosts asset forfeitures

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, having been thrown under the bus by Donald Trump, has clearly run out of fucks to give, and so now he's not only reviving the feel-good anti-drug program that convinced kids to take drugs, not only directing fed cops to arrest people who take weed in states where it's legal -- he's also calling for more civil asset forfeiture, that being the polite name for the widespread, illegal practice of cops stealing your stuff and selling it off to fund off-the-books spending on surveillance gear and other goodies. Read the rest

Crash ahoy! London real-estate prices stagnate

In a world of expensive urbanization where the spiraling cost of basic shelter has forced ever-more people into debt and fuelled a speculative global bubble of criminal money-launderers who use luxury housing as empty safe-deposit boxes in the sky, London is ground zero. Read the rest

Rudy Rucker on Walkaway

Walkaway is my first novel for adults since 2009 and I had extremely high hopes (and not a little anxiety) for it as it entered the world, back in April. Since then, I've been gratified by the kind words of many of my literary heroes, from William Gibson to Bruce Sterling to the kind cover quotes from Edward Snowden, Neal Stephenson and Kim Stanley Robinson. Read the rest

An absurd and awful moment in Switzerland's legendarily bonkers citizenship process

When I was becoming a British citizen, the one thing everyone knew was that the Life in the UK citizenship test was full of weird, arbitrary questions that most Britons couldn't answer, but next to Switzerland, the British process seems downright sane.

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A brief history of Alice & Bob, cryptography's first couple

Alice and Bob are the hypothetical communicants in every cryptographic example or explainer, two people trying to talk with one another without being thwarted or overheard by Eve, Mallory and their legion of nefarious friends. Read the rest

Smirking pharmabro Martin Shkreli to employee's wife: "I hope to see you and your four children homeless"

Martin Shkreli is the smirking, remorseless poster child for trumpism: a serial fraudster who leavened his ponzi schemes by presiding over pharmaceutical price-gouging. Read the rest

Techniques for reliably fooling AI machine-vision classifiers

The Open AI researchers were intrigued by a claim that self-driving cars would be intrinsically hard to fool (tricking them into sudden braking maneuvers, say), because "they capture images from multiple scales, angles, perspectives, and the like." Read the rest

Puzzles that teach the fundamentals of crypto's essential, elusive zero-knowledge proofs

Zero-knowledge proofs are one of the most important concepts in cryptography: they're a way to "validate a computation on private data by allowing a prover to generate a cryptographic proof that asserts to the correctness of the computed output" -- in other words, a way to prove that something is true without learning the details. Read the rest

Billions of dollars' worth of predatory student loans may... just... vanish

Private student loans are the worst of a bad bunch, with incredibly high interest rates and penalties on funds used to finance educations at the kinds of "universities" who later get their accreditations yanked for academic malpractice and deceptive advertising -- universities that target the most naive kids from the least educated backgrounds, load them up with debt, waste four years of their lives, and pop them out the door with a useless "degree."

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