How to: tickle a rat

In a new meta-analysis published in PLOS One, researchers from Purdue, Stanford and the Canadian Council on Animal Care look at the different techniques used to induce laughter in rats in order to improve their wellbeing and capture their laughter, which is delightful. Read the rest

Kentucky coal museum installs solar panels because conventional energy is too expensive

The Kentucky Coal Museum in Benham, KY, spends $2,100 a month on electricity; to save money, they're putting in 80 solar panels, which will save them $8,000/year. Read the rest

Neo-fascist presidential candidate Marine Le Pen says France was not complicit in rounding up Jews

Marine Le Pen says that she is not like her father, the notorious fascist political leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the far-right National Front party (she excommunicated him from the party, but remained chummy enough to borrow millions from him for her presidential bid). Read the rest

West African migrants are kidnapped and sold in Libyan slave markets

The UN's International Organization for Migration says that human traffickers paid to smuggle migrants out of sub-Saharan Africa are selling their "clients" to slavers in Libya, who ransom them to their families, starving them and working them to death while they wait for the money to come in. Read the rest

Cyber-arms dealers offer to sell surveillance weapons to undercover Al Jazeera reporters posing as reps of South Sudan and Iran

Companies in the EU and China have been caught offering to commit fraud to launder sales of mass surveillance weapons to Al Jazeera reporters posing as representatives of autocratic regimes under sanction for gross human rights abuses; these weapons would allow their users to target and round up political dissidents for arbitrary detention, torture and murder. Read the rest

Britons! Ask the W3C to protect disabled access, security research, archiving and innovation from DRM

With two days to go until the close of the World Wide Web Consortium members' poll on finalising DRM and publishing it as an official web standard, the UK Open Rights Group is asking Britons to write to the Consortium and its founder, Tim Berners-Lee, to advocate for a much-needed, modest compromise that would protect the open web from the world's bizarre, awful, overreaching DRM laws. Read the rest

Machined sculpture with over 1,000 individually fabricated parts

Sculptor/machinist Chris Bathgate (previously) has just come off a year of making small, clever pieces, and as a palette cleanser, he's produced the most ambitious piece to ever emerge from his workshop: Sculpture BM 792314, with over 1,000 individually machined precise parts. Read the rest

Facebook use is a predictor of depression

A pair of social scientists from UCSD and Yale conducted an NIH study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology on the link between Facebook use and mental health, drawing on data from the Gallup Panel Social Network Study combined with "objective measures of Facebook use" and self-reported data for 5,208 subjects, and concluded that increased Facebook use is causally linked with depression. Read the rest

11 obscenely optimistic songs for ukulele

Jeremy Messersmith writes, "I have a new record coming out on Friday and I've released it early as a songbook over at my website (free with an email). It's called '11 Obscenely Optimistic Songs For Ukulele: A Micro-Folk Record For The 21st Century And Beyond.' It has songs about kittens, unicorns, wealth redistribution, critical thinking, and the power of love. I wrote it to be an antidote to all the toxic news as of late; a musical unicorn chaser. I'm also embarking on a 50 show, Atlas Obscura inspired sing-along tour; all free and in scenic public spaces. I've compiled a collection of songs that fans have covered so far into a YouTube playlist over at my website. Thanks for considering!

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70,000 march in Budapest to protest legislative attack on Central European University

Joe writes, "Hungarians rose up in one of the largest protests against the seven-year rule of right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Sunday, protesting against new legislation that could force out of the country one of its top international universities." Read the rest

Wells Fargo board to force fraud-implicated former execs to repay $75m in bonuses

Former CEO John Stumpf (a major villain in the subprime scandal) previously lost $41m out of the $200m he made overseeing a multi-year fraud that stole from 2,000,000 of the bank's customers -- now he will have to repay another $28m. Read the rest

The self-driving cars wars have triggered vicious shenanigans over top engineering talent

With companies like Uber betting billions on self-driving cars, amid competition from Apple, Google, Tesla and the major automakers, the shortage of qualified engineers is sparking vicious legal battles. Read the rest

Even by the standards of tax-havens, Gibraltar is pretty sketchy

As Brexit shambles on, UK Tory Parliamentarians and Theresa May are spoiling for a re-run of the Falklands Island debacle, this time over Gibraltar, a British outpost at the tip of Spain. Read the rest

More on the desperate farmers jailbreaking their tractors' DRM to bring in the harvest

John Deere says that farmers don't really own their tractors -- even the ones they buy used! -- because the copyrighted software necessary to run those tractors is licensed, not sold. Read the rest

Maryland will fully fund Planned Parenthood to make up for federal cuts

Every dollar that the Trump administration takes away from Planned Parenthood in Maryland will be replaced by state funds (about $2.7M), which will save about $6 for every dollar it puts in, because when women are in charge of their own fertility, they don't end up raising kids they can't afford. Read the rest

The Financial Times: Uber is doomed

On FT's Alphaville, Izabella Kaminska takes note of the excellent, deep series on Uber's Ponzi-economics that Hubert Horan published last year on Naked Capitalism and calls out some juicy highlights. Read the rest

Portuguese proposal to legalize breaking DRM passes Parliament

The amazing advocacy of the DRM-PT movement has resulted in the country's Parliament passing a bill that legalizes breaking DRM to accomplish lawful ends, such as exercising the private copying right, or making uses of public domain works or works produced at public expense. Read the rest

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