Human rights coalition to DHS: don't demand social media passwords from people entering the USA

A huge coalition of human rights groups, trade groups, civil liberties groups, and individual legal, technical and security experts have signed an open letter to the Department of Homeland Security in reaction to Secretary John Kelly's remarks to House Homeland Security Committee earlier this month, where he said the DHS might force visitors to America to divulge their social media logins as a condition of entry. Read the rest

Required reading: The 2017 Nebula Awards shortlist

The Science Fiction Writers of America has released the ballot for this year's Nebula awards, nominated for and voted upon by the organization's members; the ballot lists novellas, short stories, novelettes, YA novels (the Andre Norton award), dramatic presentations (the Bradbury award), and novels -- including two debut novels I reviewed in 2016: Nisi Shawl's Everfair and Charlie Jane Anders' All the Birds in the Sky. Read the rest

1922 house and furnishings made entirely from varnished paper

Having successfully invented the paperclip-bending machine, engineer Elis F. Stenman set out to build a new summer home for himself in Rockport, Mass in 1922, entirely from paper. Read the rest

A Clinton-era tech law has quietly, profoundly redefined the very nature of property in the IoT age

An excellent excerpt from Aaron Perzanowski and Jason Schultz's The End of Ownership: Personal Property in the Digital Economy on Motherboard explains how Section 1201 of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act -- which bans tampering with or bypassing DRM, even for legal reasons -- has allowed corporations to design their products so that using them in unapproved ways is an actual felony. Read the rest

Texas lawmaker introduces bill chastising Texans for using the Chilean flag emoji

Texas and Chile have remarkably similar flags (though Chile got theirs first, by a matter of decades) and Texas doesn't have a Unicode-defined emoji for its flag (just a sprinkling of proprietary ones that do not cross platforms gracefully), so Texans have taken to using the Chilean flag emoji as a shorthand for the longhorn state. Read the rest

Tiny, poor, diabetes-wracked Pacific island nations want to ban junk food, despite risk of WTO retaliation

In the poor, remote island nations of the South Pacific, the Type-II diabetes rate ranges from 19% to 34%, a devastating health statistic that is challenging the countries' economies and wellbeing. Read the rest

"Europe's last dictator" finally finds the limits to power: taxing the unemployed during a recession

Belurusian leader Alexander Lukashenko calls himself "Europe's last dictator": he's a thug who steals elections and sends opposition politicians to forced labor camps, the kind of guy who can get away with arresting a one-armed man for clapping -- but when he imposed a "social parasite tax" on unemployed people in the recession-devastated country, it proved too much. Read the rest

Trump vs Leakers: the infographic

A handy guide from Chartlike Charts, whose return from its hiatus is both welcome and overdue. Read the rest

The previous owners of used "smart" cars can still control them via the cars' apps (not just cars!)

It's not just that smart cars' Android apps are sloppily designed and thus horribly insecure; they are also deliberately designed with extremely poor security choices: even if you factory-reset a car after it is sold as used, the original owner can still locate it, honk its horn, and unlock its doors. Read the rest

It's very hard to maintain an anonymous Twitter account that can withstand government-level attempts to de-anonymize it

It's one thing to set up an "anonymous" Twitter Hulk account whose anonymity your friends and colleagues can't pierce, because the combination of your care not to tweet identifying details, the stilted Hulk syntax, and your friends' inability to surveil the global internet and compel phone companies to give up their caller records suffice for that purpose. Read the rest

Trump supporter in a lynch-the-journalists tee, November 2016

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"Artisanal" Nintendo console cartridge hacker creates impossible alternate history games

Josh Jacobson is a Nintendo cartridge hacker who makes homebrew cartridges for games that were never released for NES/SNES, complete with label art and colored plastic cases that makes them look like they came from an alternate universe where (for example), there was a Nintendo version of Sonic the Hedgehog. Read the rest

Matt Ruff talks about his masterful antiracist novel Lovecraft Country, out in paperback today

When I reviewed Matt Ruff's incredible Lovecraft Country last February on its hardcover release dates, I wrote, "Ruff inverts the Lovecraft horror, which turned so often on "miscegenation" and the duty of advanced humans to trample those around them in their drive to recapture this lost wisdom (and humanity's lost grace). His Lovecraftian horror is the horror of the people whom the Lovecraftian heroes viewed as subhuman, expendable, a stain on the human race. By blending real history (such as the Tulsa riots) and Lovecraftian tropes, Ruff's characters shine as active protagonists in their own story who have lives, have dignity, and have indomitable spirit that they use to fight back against the power structure that Lovecraft lionized." Read the rest

For the past 40 years, the presence of immigrants in US cities was correlated with a reduction in violent and property crime

In a new paper published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, sociologists and criminologists from University at Buffalo (SUNY), the University of Alabama, Kennesaw State University, the State of Georgia, and Georgia State University review 40 years' worth of FBI data on violent crimes and property crimes, correlating this data series with Census data on the influx of immigrants to US cities. Read the rest

What America loses when the USDA nukes its taxpayer-funded records of animal cruelty

Immediately upon assuming office, the Trump administration directed the US Department of Agriculture to take down the extensive records of its publicly funded investigations of animal cruelty in America; now, Americans can only access their own data by paying for expensive, unweildy, and slow Freedom of Information Act requests to the USDA. Read the rest

A Gmail plugin to do "emotional labor"

Install the Emotional Labor extension and it will automatically add social niceties to your outbound mail -- phrases like "Hey, Lovely! I've been thinking of you." (via 4 Short Links) Read the rest

Hereditary Samsung chieftain arrested for bribing disgraced president's "Shamanic" cult leader

Lee Jae-yong is nominally "vice-chairman" of Samsung, but his father, Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee, is considered to be a mere figurehead, with Lee Jae-yong as the true boss of the company. Read the rest

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