Alan sez, "According to various media reports (e.g. BBC) the technology subreddit has scrubbed its moderator team after users discovered that the sub was holding a secret censorship list of banned words that included 'National Security Agency', 'GCHQ', 'Anonymous', 'anti-piracy', 'Bitcoin', 'Snowden', 'net neutrality', 'EU Court', 'startup' and 'Assange'.
On its face, this looks like a list of politicized terms, and blocking them looks like a highly political and partisan act -- for example, by blocking "net neutrality," then stories that are critical of network discrimination would be blocked, while straight news stories that overwhelmingly quoted corporate spokespeople using uncritical terms would make the front door.
More charitably, it may have been the act of overworked (and ultimately irresponsible) moderators to simply ban hot-button topics altogether.
The Obama administration has lost a high-stakes lawsuit brought against it by the New York Times and the ACLU over its refusal to divulge the legal basis for its extrajudicial assassination program against US citizens. The Obama administration declared that it had the right to assassinate Americans overseas, far from the field of battle, on the basis of a secret legal theory. When it refused to divulge that theory in response to Freedom of Information Act requests, the Times and the ACLU sued. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has found in the Times's and ACLU's favor.
The Obama administration had insisted that the legal memo in question was protected as a national security secret. However, the court found that because the administration had made statements about the memo, assuring the public that the assassinations were legal, it had waived its right to keep the memo a secret. There's no work on whether the administration will appeal to the Supreme Court.
Afterparty is a new, excellent science fiction novel by Daryl Gregory, about drugs, God, sanity, morals, and organized crime. Its protagonist, Lyda Rose is a disgraced neuroscientist who once helped develop a drug that rewired its users' brains so that they continuously hallucinated the presence of living, embodied Godhead. Now Lyda is in a mental institution, where she is attempting to win over the therapists who oversee her -- as well as the angelic doctor that manifests only in her mind.
After criticizing the new ‘Teen Titans’ cover, Janelle Asselin was name-called and threatened with rape. The worst part? No one is surprised. You’ve seen this scenario before, and you’ll see it again (until more of us do something). Woman writes about something traditionally regarded as a male-orientated industry or area of interest; if she’s conveying love, she’s doing it “for attention” (so what?) or “fake” (whatever that means); if she criticizes, she’s insulting, whining, moaning, on her period; if she says anything at all, her argument or point is made invisible because her damn biology is getting in the way.
There's something peculiar about this cover that really gets to the heart of it all. The discrepancy between what it thinks it is (a strong character for young girls to aspire to) and what it really is (objectified skin for old men to wank to) is just so obvious that it simply couldn't exist without the whole business's lifetime subscription to denial.
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Crypt under St. Michan's Church, Dublin
Ireland is a magical place. Everyone I met was wonderful and the beautiful terrain and sheer history of the island awed me. From the green countryside around Cork to Dublin's charming model of an ancient city living in modern times, I fell for Ireland over and over.
As part of Saturday's Record Store Day releases, The Wizard of Oz Soundtrack has once again become available on vinyl! The "75th Anniversary" edition is pressed on emerald green vinyl and includes a digital download of the original version of "If I Only Had A Brain" which you can hear above. Ray "The Scarecrow" Bolger's first recording of the tune, only rediscovered in 2009, was much mellower than the one ultimately picked for the film.
The Borgata Hotel Casino & Space is suing World Series of Poker star Phil Ivey for nearly $10 million for using what they claim are "imperfect" playing cards that gave Ivey a leg up. Borgata is also going after Gemaco, Inc., makers of the playing cards. From NorthJersey.com:
The suit alleges that the some of the cards made by Gemaco turned out to not have a perfectly symmetrical design on the back of the card. Ivey, the suit claims, was able to figure out what the first card to be dealt was – giving him a significant advantage over the “house,” or casino.
Ivey contacted Borgata officials in April 2012 and sought to play mini-baccarat for up to $50,000 a hand on the $1 million he would wire to the casino, according to the suit. Given Ivey’s high-roller status, the casino agreed to his request that he would be given a private area in which to play as well as provided with a card dealer who spoke Mandarin Chinese. The casino also agreed to let Ivey bring a guest to the table as well, to provide one purple deck of Gemaco playing cards for use, and for an automatic card shuffling device to be used.
According to the suit, “The pretext given for some of these requests was that Ivey was superstitious."
Hosted by Greg and Sharon Ross, Futility Closet is a celebration of the quirky and the curious, the thought-provoking and the simply amusing. This podcast is an audio companion to the popular website that catalogs more than 7,000 curiosities in history, language, mathematics, literature, philosophy, and art. In each episode we explore intriguing finds from our research, share listener contributions, and offer a contest in which listeners can match their wits.
The 1850s saw a strange experiment in the American West: The U.S. Army imported 70 camels for help in managing the country’s suddenly enormous hinterland. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll see how the animals acquitted themselves in an unfamiliar land under inexperienced human masters.
We’ll also learn a surprising theory regarding the origin of zebra stripes; follow the further adventures of self-mailing ex-slave Henry “Box” Brown; ask whether a well-wrought piano can survive duty as a beehive, chicken incubator, and meat safe; and present the next Futility Closet Challenge. (See show notes for the episode.)
This episode is brought to you by Audible, for a free audiobook of your choice and a free 30-day trial membership, go to audiblepodcast.com/closet
Boars, Gore, and Swords is hosted by stand-up comedians Ivan Hernandez and Red Scott. In each episode they break down HBO's Game of Thrones and George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. They also talk about movies, TV, science fiction, fantasy, and lots of other things. NSFW.
“Breaker of Chains,” Season 4 Episode 3 of HBO’s Game of Thrones, takes a victory lap before dealing with the ripples of one of the biggest shocks to hit Westeros yet. Ivan and Red are joined by comedian Matt Lieb to discuss this episode which sets the stage for the rest of the season. We cover Sansa running into Gendry, Littlefinger doing Batman’s voice, the absolute worst kind of sexual act, the loudest slurping scene in modern television, The Hound going Galt, Samwell Tarly’s poor judgement, the return of The BORG (or Thenns), knife to horse combat, and a really respectable pyramid.
SRI International is creating coordinated systems of tiny ant-like robots that can build larger structures. The aim is a swarm of magnetically-controlled bugbots that could construct electronic devices, conduct chemistry for lab-on-a-chip applications, or do other micro scale manufacturing. It's part of the US Department of Defense's "Open Manufacturing" program. (via Re/code)
In the clearing, above a pyre, someone had erected a tall wicker sculpture in the shape of a tree, with dense gnarls and hanging hoops. Four men in masks knelt at the sculpture’s base, at cardinal compass points. When midnight struck, a fifth man, his head shaved smooth and wearing a kimono, began to walk slowly around them. As he passed the masked figures, each ignited a yellow flare, until finally, his circuit complete, the bald man set the sculpture on fire. For a couple of minutes, it was quiet. Then as the wicker blazed, a soft chant passed through the crowd, the words only gradually becoming clear: “We are gathered. We are gathered. We are gathered.” After that came disorder. A man wearing a stag mask bounded into the clearing and shouted: “Come! Let’s play!” The crowd broke up. Some headed for bed. A majority headed for the woods, to a makeshift stage that had been blocked off with hay bales and covered by an enormous nylon parachute. There they danced, sang, laughed, barked, growled, hooted, mooed, bleated and meowed, forming a kind of atavistic, improvisatory choir.
This is actually a pretty normal weekend for Worthing, England, but I digress. The story here is the unsettling quality of his manifesto, Uncivilization, which hammers at the "false hope" of much said in the name of environmentalism--a darker, doomier view of our ecological future that is, to some, a betrayal, a "troubling abdication." It has a counterpart in fiction: Kingsorth's novel, The Wake, is a "postapocalyptic tale set 1000 years ago", after the Norman invasion, composed in a hybrid of modern and old English.