The Building Shaker: a thumping gadget for annoying your noisy neighbors

The Chinese media report on a man called Zhao from Xi'an who took revenge on his noisy upstairs neighbors whose boy wouldn't stop jumping on his ceiling by buying a "building shaker" -- a gadget that thumps your shared walls until your neighbors capitulate -- and leaving it on while he went away for the weekend. Read the rest

Hackers shut down stalkerware companies that spy for spouses and parents, delete and dump their files

Two hackers supplied Motherboard with 130,000 account details hacked from Retina-X and FlexiSpy, who market covert surveillance tools to jealous spouses and nervous parents -- tools that are intended to be covertly installed on their laptops and mobile devices in order to tap into their keystrokes, mics, calls, stored photos and other capabilities. Read the rest

France's Sanders-esque candidate has a chance at the Presidency

Jean-Luc Mélenchon was a longshot candidate in the French presidential race: an avowed socialist who split from the mainstream (and dysfunctional, and centrist) Socialist Party to found a new party -- La France Insoumise ("Unsubmissive France") -- pundits wrote Mélenchon off early in the race. Read the rest

Theresa May calls UK snap elections for June 8

The UK Prime Minister -- riding high on a recent uptick in Brexit popularity and taking advantage of divisions in the Labour Party -- has called snap elections for June 8. Read the rest

Europeans: tell the EU Parliament to make a modern copyright, fit for the internet age

Timothy from Creative Commons writes, "The purpose of copyright is to empower -- not frustrate! -- creativity and knowledge production. Nowhere is a balanced copyright more important than in education. But 15-year-old EU copyright laws don't take into account modern digital and online teaching methods, tools, and resources." Read the rest

Beautiful articulated anatomical, natural history and microscopic pendants

Etsy seller Tcustom is a carver who casts their small creations to make beautiful, detailed articulated keychains and pendants, the best of which use contrasting materials. Some of my favorites: Anatomical Human Head; Salamander Life Cycle; Mitochondria and Trilobite. Read the rest

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

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