Phoenix airport threatens to kick out TSA, hire private (unaccountable) contractors

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The administrators of the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport are apparently considering getting rid of the TSA and replacing them with private contractors, similar to the setup at San Francisco International Airport. Read the rest

US Gov't survey: Half of Americans reluctant to shop online due to privacy & security fears

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A study by the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration found that half of American Internet users are "deterred" from engaging in online transactions because of fears over privacy and security breaches. Read the rest

Iceland's Pirate Party to receive millions in election funding

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Iceland's elections are publicly funded, with funds awarded based on polls of the electorate; the Pirates have consistently polled higher than any other party, and the incumbent coalition (whose parties are polling in the single digits) has been scrambling to avoid a general election after the Panama Papers revealed that he had secret offshore accounts that benefited from his bailout of Iceland's planet-destroying banks. Read the rest

Nebula Award swept by record number of women writers

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The Nebula Awards -- voted on by members of the Science Fiction Writers of America to recognize excellence in science fiction and fantasy -- were given out in Chicago yesterday, and every prose award went to a woman (the film award went to the writers of feminist action film Mad Max: Fury Road). Read the rest

Algorithmic cruelty: when Gmail adds your harasser to your speed-dial

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Inbox by Gmail combs through your email looking for frequent correspondents and puts the people who email you the most in a "speed dial" sidebar (that you can't edit) that puts their names and pictures front-and-center for you every time you go to your email. Read the rest

Brainjacking: the future of software security for neural implants

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In a new scientific review paper published in World Neurosurgery, a group of Oxford neurosurgeons and scientists round up a set of dire, terrifying warnings about the way that neural implants are vulnerable to networked attacks. Read the rest

Banker implicated in one of history's biggest frauds says boss beat him with a tiny baseball bat

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Jonathan Mathew is one of the bankers at Barclays who participated in the Libor rigging fraud, which cost people all over the world trillions of dollars in higher payments on mortgages, government bonds, student loans, and other assets totalling $350 trillion. Read the rest

FBI Director: viral videos make cops afraid to do their jobs

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FBI Director James Comey told reporters that "viral video effect" (which is his latest term for what used to be called the "Ferguson effect") is responsible for increased violent crime in some US cities, in that police are scared to do their jobs because they might end up on Youtube in an unflattering video. Read the rest

Infested: an itchy, fascinating natural history of the bed bug

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The resurgence of the bed bug caught modern civilization flatfooted: an ancient pestilence dating back to the Pharoahs, gone for two generations, has returned with a vengeance, infesting fancy hotels and slums alike, lining our streets with mattresses spraypainted with the warning BEDBUGS. Infested, science writer Brooke Borel's natural history of the bed bug, looks at the bug's insurgency as a scientific, cultural, and economic phenomenon, and will leave you itching with delight.

Famous writers with their first word processors

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U Maryland English professor Matthew G. Kirschenbaum has a new book called Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing that tells the story of word processing from writers' perspectives; an accompanying gallery collects photos of famous authors with their first word processors (mine was an Apple //e). Pictured above: Stephen King with his Wang System 5 Model 3 word processor in 1982. Read the rest

Behavioral economist on why Americans freak out when you attribute their success to luck

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Cornell economist Robert Frank drew the ire of the nation's business press when he published an article that said something most economists would agree with: hard work and skill aren't enough (or even necessary) to succeed; but luck is. Rather than back down from the angry reception, he's expanded the article into a book, Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy, which came out last month. Read the rest

Telcoms companies try to rescue TV by imposing Internet usage caps on cord-cutters

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What do you do if you're a giant corporation devoted to selling people huge, $100/month bundles of TV channels they don't want anymore, but you also have a monopoly on selling high-speed Internet access, which they want very badly? Read the rest

The weird, humiliating nicknames George W Bush gave to everyone

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Remember when "Turd blossom" was the affectionate nickname the President of the United States used to refer to his chief advisor? Read the rest

"Tendril perversion": when one loop of a coil goes the other way

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The term "tendril perversion" was coined in 1998 by mathematicians Goriely and Tabor to describe the long-observed phenomenon of coiled cables, vines and other helixes that have one kinked loop that goes the other way. Read the rest

Clicking "Buy now" doesn't "buy" anything, but people think it does

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In What We Buy When We "Buy Now", a paper forthcoming in The University of Pennsylvania Law Review, respected copyright scholars Aaron Perzanowski and Chris Jay Hoofnagle report on an experiment they set up to test what people clicking the "buy now" button on stores selling digital things (ebooks, games, music, videos, etc) think they get for their money -- it's not what they think. Read the rest

Open letter to from EFF to members of the W3C Advisory Committee

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The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has made a sea-change: now, in addition to making open web standards that anyone can implement, they're creating a video DRM standard designed to prevent people from implementing it unless they have permission from the big movie and TV companies, by invoking the notorious Digital Millennium Copyright Act and its international equivalents. Read the rest

Gallery show of forks stolen from rich people, sealed to preserve crumbs & saliva

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Australian artist Van Thanh Rudd, nephew of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, spent 15 years stealing forks that had been used by the rich and powerful, vacuum sealing them to preserve leftover morsels, saliva and DNA, and now he tours them as a gallery show called "Rich Forks." Read the rest

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