Read: Chapter 3 of Walkaway, in which a university rises from the ashes

There's only 8 days until the publication of Walkaway (stil time to pre-order signed hardcovers: US, UK), and Tor.com has just published a sneak peek at chapter 3: "Takeoff." Read the rest

The gorgeous, surreal GIFs of Adam Pizurny

Adam Pizurny's Tumblr is an endless font of stupendous and surreal GIFs. Read the rest

Independent repair guy on the planned obsolescence of Apple products

Louis Rossmann is an independent service technician in New York City who has repaired Apple products for years. Read the rest

Shoelace knots fail catastrophically, thanks to 7 gees' worth of stress

Update: Whoops, David got there first!

In a new paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, researchers from UC Berkeley reveal that shoelace knots do not gradualy come loose, as was previously supposed -- rather, they fail catastrophically and suddenly, thanks to strange and surprising stresses that they must endure. Read the rest

Wells Fargo woulda gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for that darn trade union

For decades, Wells Fargo pressured its employees to commit millions of acts of fraud against its customers, using threats and blackballing to terrorize low-level employees. Read the rest

Customs and Border Patrol can't find qualified applicants for Trump's immigration crackdown

Donald Trump has vowed to crack down on immigration in America and has attempted to turn immigration cops into a kind of Praetorian Guard with flattery and promises of hiring bonanzas (the agencies have been very amenable to this sort of thing, ignoring judges and Congress and insisting that they will do anything Trump orders them to do). Read the rest

Inert Products: simulated suicide bombs and body parts for training exercises

If four years of life with your circumcision simulator has taken some of the bloom off the rose, you can refresh your collection of odd simulators with Inert's line of training gadgets for people combating suicide bombers, which include suicide vests, IEDs (including "person borne" IEDs), and complete training kits for gaming out guerrilla battles and/or multiple shooter responses, with fake guns, rocket launchers, balaclavas, grenades, etc. Read the rest

Strollers suck so these designers made their own amazing, lightweight, compact marvel

Tim from Windfire Designs writes, "We got excited about making our own stroller after getting sick of trying to choose between really giant expensive and clunky strollers, or putting up with cheap, throw away strollers. We made our own -- which is always great -- because we could decide what was cool, rather than being told and sold. This thing goes everywhere, and the kiddo loves it. This video should show others the path to not accepting the de facto standards in stroller design." Read the rest

Blockers will win the ad-blocking arms race

Ad-blockers begat ad-blocker-blockers, which begat ad-blocker-blocker-blockers, with no end in sight. Read the rest

The Bureaucratic Style in American prose

After Colin Dickey wrote about United CEO Oscar Munoz's nonpology for the savage beating of Dr David Dao, he was taken to task for accusing the CEO of writing in the "passive voice."

The closer Dickey looked, the more he concluded that "passive voice" is not a good characterization of the style employed by corporate America; rather, the instantly recognizable "Bureaucratic Style" "makes use of both active and passive constructions, but its purpose is uniform: to erase and efface any active agent on the part of the bureaucracy."

Dickey's essay on Bureaucratic Style is fascinating.

To begin with, the bureaucratic style works to erase cause. Here is Munoz’s description of the start of the incident: “On Sunday, April 9, after United Express Flight 3411 was fully boarded, United’s gate agents were approached by crewmembers that were told they needed to board the flight.” Setting aside the passengers for a second, in this sentence there are two named actors: the gate agents and the crewmembers. You might expect, then, that this all started when the crewmembers approached the gate agents and told them they needed to board the flight. However, a closer reading of the syntax implies this is not the case; the crewmembers themselves “were told they needed to board the flight.” Who told them? The sentence does not make this clear, even though it is this unnamed actor, presumably a supervisor, who set this entire chain of events in motion. Deliberately pushed back as far off the stage as possible, there is no one here to responsibly hold accountable for subsequent events.

Read the rest

The latest NSA dump from the Shadow Brokers tells you how to break into banks

The mysterious tragicomic hacking group The Shadow Brokers continues to dump incredibly compromising cyberweapons and internal information looted from the NSA, accompanied by Borat-compliant gibberish that reads like someone trying to make you guess whether there's a false flag in play, and if so, who is waving it. Read the rest

The amazing world of Casio watchmodding

The last time we wrote about the Casio F-91W digital watch, it was to note the odd connection between the timepiece and suicide bombing, but that's not the only extraordinary activity pursued by aficionados of the watch: they also love to mod 'em. Read the rest

The IRS deliberately targeted innocents for civil forfeiture program that stole millions from Americans

Banks have to report deposits of $10,000 or more to the IRS, so some fraudsters "structure" their transactions as a string of sub-$10K payments that escape the regulatory requirement. Structuring is also illegal, and the IRS has the power to seize funds that the agency believes were part of a structuring scheme, under the discredited "civil fofeiture" process through which an inanimate object is sued for being the proceeds of a crime, and then the owner of that object has to prove that the object is "innocent." Read the rest

New materials allow 2.8l/day of solar-powered desert water-vapor extraction

Researchers from MIT, UC Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley, and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology published a paper in Science describing a solar-powered device that uses a new type of metal organic framework (MOF) to extract up to three litres of water per day from even the most arid desert air. Read the rest

Masterprints: synthetic fingerprints that unlock up to 65% of phones (in theory)

When the touch-sensors on phones capture your fingerprint, they're really only taking a low-resolution, partial snapshot and loosely matching it to a stored image -- which is how a research team from MSU and NYU were able to synthesize their Masterprints ("a fingerprint that serendipitously matches a certain proportion of the fingerprint population"), which drastically reduce the space of possible "guesses" that an attacker has to make to unlock a phone or other device. Read the rest

David Dao's injuries: concussion, two front teeth knocked out, broken nose

Dr David Dao's lawyers have revealed the extent of his injuries as part of his pending lawsuit: "a broken nose and concussion and lost two front teeth." Read the rest

California's charter schools: hundreds of millions of tax dollars for wasteful, redundant, low-quality education

In Spending Blind: The Failure of Policy Planning in California Charter School Funding, Gordon Lafer -- a University of Oregon prof who also works for Oakland's The Public Interest -- finds "hundreds of millions of dollars ... spent each year without any meaningful strategy... on schools built in neighborhoods that have no need for additional classroom space, and which offer no improvement over the quality of education already available in nearby public schools. In the worst cases, public facilities funding has gone to schools that were found to have discriminatory enrollment policies and others that have engaged in unethical or corrupt practices." Read the rest

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