Submit a link Features Reviews Podcasts Video Forums More ▾

Cory Doctorow

I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.

Private equity, an infection that is eating the world


In an amazing and terrifying essay called How to get beyond the parasite economy, Eric Garland describes how private equity infects industry after industry, sucking all productive capacity out of it through complex and fraudulent financial engineering, and abandoning the drained husk as it moves onto its next meal. Garland uses the case of Guitar Center as his example of this process in action, describing how Bain Capital bought and gutted Guitar Center, turning it into a financially complex, debt-riddled zombie that exists to float high-risk junk bonds to fill out the portfolios of the hyper-rich, without any connection to the real world of guitars, amplifiers and musicians.

Read the rest

Squicked out alien describes human sex

Here's a nice use of science fiction's trick of describing cherished human behaviors and institutions through the ironic distance of an alien observer: Mallory Ortberg's short story Erotica Written By An Alien Pretending Not To Be Horrified By The Human Body:

Read the rest

This Day in Blogging History: Ebert RIP; URL shorteners suck; Ripping off workers by doctoring digital timeclocks

One year ago today
Roger Ebert, 1942–2013: Roger Ebert, the legendary film critic, died today.

Five years ago today
Why URL shorteners suck: Delicious founder Joshua Schachter says that URL shorteners like TinyURL are a bad idea, because they make the web more fragile, dependent on the shortener services as central points of failure. They also assist spammers, undermine googlejuice, and expose users to security vulnerabilities.

Ten years ago today
Digital timeclocks being doctored by chain-store managers: Mr. Pooters, a father of five who left the Air Force in 1997 for a career in retailing, talks with disgust about photocopied Toys "R" Us records that he said showed how his manager made it appear that he had clocked out much earlier than he had.

The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation, a nuanced and moving history of race, slavery and the Civil War


The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation sat in my pile for too long, and it shouldn't have. I loved The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation, the previous effort by Jonathan Hennessey and Aaron McConnell, so I should have anticipated how good this new one would be. Having (belatedly) gotten around to it, I can finally tell you that this is an extraordinary, nuanced history of the issues of race and slavery in America, weaving together disparate threads of military, geopolitical, technological, legal, Constitutional, geographic and historical factors that came together to make the Civil War happen at the moment when it occurred, that brought it to an end, and that left African Americans with so little justice in its wake.

Read the rest

Yahoo beefs up security in two meaningful and important ways

Yahoo has taken some serious steps towards protecting user-privacy, writes the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Seth Schoen. After revelations that the NSA and GCHQ had hacked its services, intercepted private video-chats, and harvesting mass data from its fiber optic links, the company has added forward secrecy and STARTTLS to its roster of default-on security measures. Of the two, forward secrecy is the most interesting, as it protects the privacy of old intercepted Yahoo data even if the company loses control of its keys. Bravo, Yahoo! Cory 7

Imogen Heap's musical gloves

Sean sends us, "a video interview with Imogen Heap describing her homemade electronic interface gloves that control her music interface software by the movement and positions of her hands." Heap is kickstarting an open source hardware version of the gloves.

Read the rest

UK Tories call for a national of slaves

Charlie Stross is on fire in this essay on the true meaning of the UK Exchequer George Osborne's promise to produce a Britain with 100% employment: he is proposing nothing less than a nation of slaves. Cory 31

Girl Talk's first official video: the ultraviolent "Tolerated"

Allen Cordell sends us Tolerated, "an ultra-violent music video I directed. It's Girl Talk's first official video ever!"

Daniel Ellsberg to keynote HOPE X in NYC this summer

2600 Magazine's Emmanuel Goldstein writes, "Acclaimed whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg will be keynoting at this summer's HOPE X conference in New York City. Ellsberg leaked the infamous Pentagon Papers, 7,000 pages of documents that wound up changing American history forever. Today's whistleblowers are treated far more harshly, both by the authorities and the mainstream media, often facing lengthly prison terms or a life on the run. Fortunately, Ellsberg has remained involved and connected. A whole new generation will hear his words in person and hopefully be inspired to reveal the truth from whatever corporate or government position they find themselves in." Cory 2

Britain is turning into a country that can't tell its terrorists from its journalists


Sarah Harrison, a British journalist who's worked with Wikileaks and the Snowden papers, writes that she will not enter the UK any longer because the nation's overbroad anti-terror laws, combined with the court decision that validates using them to detain journalists who are not suspected of terrorism under any reasonable definition of the term, means that she fears begin detained at the airport and then jailed as a terrorist when she refuses to decrypt her files and grant police access to her online accounts. Under the UK's Terrorism Act of 2000, journalists who write because they hope to expose and halt corruption are liable to being jailed as terrorists because they report on leaks in a way that is "designed to influence the government." And "the government," according to the Act, is any government, anywhere in the world -- meaning that journalists who report on leaks that embarrass any government in the world can be treated as terrorists in the UK.

Nor is this an idle risk: Glenn Greenwald's partner, David Miranda, was detained under terrorism rules when he transited through the UK, and a UK judge subsequently found that the detention was justified on these grounds, even though no one suggests that Miranda is involved in terrorism in any way. As Harrison writes, "Britain is turning into a country that can't tell its terrorists from its journalists."

The final paragraphs of Harrison's editorial sum it up neatly:

Read the rest

Crowdfunding Novena, the fully open/transparent laptop project

Remember Bunnie Huang's fully open laptop? Bunnie and Sean "xobs" Cross prototyped a machine he called the "Novena" in which every component, down to the BIOS, was fully documented, licensed under FLOSS licenses, and was totally modifiable by its owner.

Now, Bunnie and Xobs have teamed up with Sutajio Kosagi for a crowdfunding campaign to take the laptop into production. $500 gets you the board, $1200 gets you a desktop version, $2000 gets you a laptop and $5000 get you a "heirloom laptop" in a handmade wooden case crafted by Portland-area luthier Kurt Mottweiler.

The Novena is "not a device made for consumer home use" -- it has lots of components that are exposed during normal use, has no moisture- or static-resistance built into it, etc. It's intended as a piece of high-quality lab equipment for people interested in the long-term project of building fully open, everyday use computers where surveillance, abusive commercial practices, and other proprietary horribles are substantially harder to accomplish than in the current hardware/software ecosystem.

Noah Swartz notes, "I for one am super excited about it because it's meant specifically for hackers and tinkerers. The motherboard has a Spartan-6 CSG324-packaged FPGA built right into it, and if you opt for the conversion-tablet form factor you also get bunni's own battery controller which allows you to use cheap RC car or airplane batteries instead of expensive laptop specific ones by moving the load balancing circuits off of the battery itself. Also the internals of the case are covered in mounting holes (dubbed the peek array after Nadya Peek: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIUE8VVLjCE) which allow you to affix whatever sort of add-ons you want to the inside of the laptop."

I've put in for one of the laptops. I can't wait.

Read the rest

This Day in Blogging History: How I Work; Welsh terror cops think jazz musician is a terrorist; Remix Everyone in Silico

One year ago today
Cory's HOW I WORK interview: What apps/software/tools can't you live without? Ubuntu and the suite of GNU tools in any robust Unix system. A good text editor (currently Gedit)—I keep all of my working files at .txts. A robust, highly configurable browser (Firefox/Firefox for Android). A fast RSS reader (presently Google Reader, likely to be Newsblur next). A tetherable mobile connection—I use EasyTether for Android to circumvent tether-blocking as deployed by some of the carriers I use around the world, especially Rogers in Canada. AirDroid for moving files on/off Android devices in my life. An external USB battery (currently PowerGen 5200mAh External Battery Pack).

Five years ago today
Terror cops in Wales mistake jazz musician for terrorist: Victor Frederick, 63, was arrested and strip-searched just yards from his home, just moments after his partner Andrea Heath and their daughter had infra-red sights trained at them and were told they would be shot if they moved.

Ten years ago today
Everyone In Silico, licensed for remixing: My friend Jim Munroe is a brilliant sf writer, author of Angry Young Spaceman (which I reviewed for Wired), Everyone in Silico, and Flyboy Action Figure Comes With Gas Mask. Silico is a particularily interesting novel about the corporatization of public spaces (Jim used to be a managing editor at AdBusters), and among Jim's publicity stunts for the book was a letter-writing campaign to corporations mentioned in the book, shaking them down for money for "product placement."

Captain America bathrobe with hood/mask

If I could, I'd live in loungewear: pajamas, bathrobes, etc. If there's one thing that makes a terry bathrobe even more comfy, it's a hood. And if there's one thing that makes a hooded terry bathrobe even more cool, it's eye-holes and Captain America livery so that you can hang around on the sofa all day in your robe, rising only to role-play moments from the new Captain America movie, which is really quite good despite several egregiously stupid plot-points involving computers and the Internet, which I will be detailing at great length when I get an afternoon free to do so.

The robe's from Thinkgeek, it's 100% cotton, and it costs $70. It's got Captain America's shield embroidered on the back!

Captain America Terry Robe

White, right-wing terrorist busted...and hardly a peep


Last week, the FBI arrested Robert James Talbot Jr., 38, of Katy, Texas. Talbot was the self-styled head of the American Insurgent Movement, which openly plotted to massacre Moslems at mosques and kill them with automatic weapons, sought to rob armored cars, and recruited followers to sow more mayhem. Talbot is a violent Christian fundamentalist who advertised his intention to murder people wholesale.

Kudos to the FBI for arresting this fellow, but as Death and Taxes point out, where the hell was the national panic that attends every arrest of a jihadi terrorist, no matter how cracked and improbable his plan happened to be? Nowhere to be seen.

Now, if this was a recognition by the press that lone kooks are not an existential threat to the world -- even if they are capable of committing horrible, isolated crimes -- I'd be standing up and cheering. But if Talbot had been a brown-skinned conservative Muslim who'd been arrested after planning to attack Christian churches in America with bombs and machine-guns, I suspect there would have been screaming front-page headlines and round-the-clock intensive CNN coverage for days, not to mention grim, determined reporting on Fox News.

Winnie the Pooh does Darth Vader

Here's voice-actor Jim "Winnie the Pooh" Cummings doing Darth Vader's lines from Star Wars in the voice of Winnie, and other key characters as Darkwing Duck and his other best-known voices; he appears with Lauren Landa, another voice actor with a distinguished resume of anime and game voices. It's pretty much perfect.

Jim Cummings CtCon 2013 - Star Wars with Winnie the Pooh (via Kelly the Mortal Girl)