Bravo Twitter: company promises not to help create Trump's Muslim registry

REUTERS
The Intercept's Sam Biddle asked nine tech companies if they would help authorities create a national registry of known muslims—one of president-elect Donald Trump's campaign suggestions. Only Twitter would go on the record to state that it would not co-operate with such a list.
Twitter: “No,” and a link to this blog post, which states as company policy a prohibition against the use, by outside developers, of “Twitter data for surveillance purposes. Period.” which states as company policy a prohibition against the use, by outside developers, of “Twitter data for surveillance purposes. Period.”

Bravo. It takes courage and planning for publicly-traded businesses to take a hostile stand on hot potatoes like this, and Twitter bothered. Compare to IBM, whose CEO wrote Trump a slobbering mash note promising the services of her company.

Seven of the other companies didn't respond at all. Microsoft responded with "We’re not going to talk about hypotheticals at this point."

We're asking if tech firms are going to cooperate. But when it comes to inferring affiliations from the mass surveillance of private data, it's just the sort of thing whistleblowers warn us is already going on. Trump's off-the-cuff blather about official registries isn't about what is known, but about making it acceptable.

That said, Biddle's post was met this weekend by dismissive sneering from the Gilfoyles: a good reminder that Silicon Valley is cynical and willing, and that fatalism is the best policy.

Update: Duped Cory. Read the rest

UK Members of Parliament exempt themselves from spying law

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The UK lumpenproletariat will surely accept, nay, cheer, the fact that their betters are too well-bred to be expected to follow the same rules as the rabble.

From The Independent

Politicians have exempted themselves from Britain's new wide-ranging spying laws.

The Investigatory Powers Act, which has just passed into law, brings some of the most extreme and invasive surveillance powers ever given to spies in a democratic state. But protections against those spying powers have been given to MPs.

Most of the strongest powers in the new law require that those using them must be given a warrant. That applies to people wanting to see someone's full internet browsing history, for instance, which is one of the things that will be collected under the new law.

As J.R. "Bob" Dobbs said, "I don't practice what I preach because I'm not the kind of person I'm preaching to." Read the rest

Donald Duck is a quite effective and surreal math teacher

"Donald in Mathmagic Land" was released in 1959. As Walt Disney said, "The cartoon is a good medium to stimulate interest."

Read the rest

Make America Grit Again: poor towns tearing up roads they can't afford to maintain

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Aarian Marshall reports that poor towns are ripping up pothole-ridden roads rather than pay to maintain them.

Repaving roads is expensive, so Montpelier instead used its diminishing public works budget to take a step back in time and un-pave the road. Workers hauled out a machine called a “reclaimer” and pulverized the damaged asphalt and smoothed out the road’s exterior. They filled the space between Vermont’s cruddy soil and hardier dirt and gravel up top with a “geotextile”, a hardy fabric that helps with erosion, stability and drainage.

In an era of dismal infrastructure spending, where the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the country’s roads a D grade, rural areas all over the country are embracing this kind of strategic retreat.

It's also true that some rural towns paved unnecessarily and bizarrely. When I lived in the southwest, I'd sometimes run into grids of perfectly black country roads gridding through the empty flat llano, like something put into Sim City before you even get started on what buildings you zone for. Oil money.

Which is to say this sounds like an infrastructure problem, but in many cases it's just coming to terms with the reality of life in the country: "most of the community leaders interviewed by the report’s authors said their residents approved of de-paving, especially if agencies kept them informed about the process."

Photo: Deborah Fitchett (CC-BY-2.0) Read the rest

Trump fans melting down online for some reason

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Trump's fans are having a tough time so far today. First, the realization struck many that one must be registered before election day to vote in all but 14 states. Second, the Trumpernet seems to be context-collapsing: they might yet win the night, but backstabbing and chaos is already upon it. A subreddit, r/the_meltdown, is collecting the most spectacular ragequits. Most are from /pol/, though, which is as much a performance venue as anything else. Read the rest

Interactive clothing via dynamic projection mapping

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Technically, cloth is a "deforming non-rigid surface," so projecting a stable image onto clothes is a big technological challenge. To solve it, Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory combined two new techniques that allow stable projection of an image onto clothes even as they move. Read the rest

Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2016 went to Bob Dylan "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition". From the New York Times:

Sara Danius, a literary scholar and the permanent secretary of the 18-member Swedish Academy, which awards the prize, called Mr. Dylan “a great poet in the English-speaking tradition” and compared him to Homer and Sappho, whose work was delivered orally. Asked if the decision to award the prize to a musician signaled a broadening in the definition of literature, Ms. Danius jokingly responded, “The times they are a changing, perhaps,” referencing one of Mr. Dylan’s songs.

"Bob Dylan Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature" (NYT)

Read the rest

English man spends 11 hours trying to make cup of tea with Wi-Fi kettle

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The iKettle is advertised as “the world’s first Wi-Fi kettle.” Mark Rittman got one and said it took 11-hours to make a cup of tea.

From The Guardian:

A key problem seemed to be that Rittman’s kettle didn’t come with software that would easily allow integration with other devices in his home, including Amazon Echo, which, like Apple’s Siri, allows users to tell connected smart devices what to do. So Rittman was trying to build the integration functionality himself.

Read the rest

Yahoo secretly scanned its users' email for U.S. intelligence services

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Yahoo email accounts were scanned by the company on behalf of U.S. intelligence services from last year. This represents the first example of a U.S. service provider providing complete access to "all arriving messages," reports Reuters.

It is not known what information intelligence officials were looking for, only that they wanted Yahoo to search for a set of characters. That could mean a phrase in an email or an attachment, said the sources, who did not want to be identified.

Reuters was unable to determine what data Yahoo may have handed over, if any, and if intelligence officials had approached other email providers besides Yahoo with this kind of request.

According to the two former employees, Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer's decision to obey the directive roiled some senior executives and led to the June 2015 departure of Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos, who now holds the top security job at Facebook Inc.

It might not seem terribly meaningful to users, given the revelation that 500m Yahoo accounts (surely all of its users, or close to it) were hacked anyway, but there's a difference between a one-off break-in and a standing invitation. Over four years of Mayer's leadership, Yahoo suffered a "stunning collapse in valuation" and was sold to Verizon for $4.83bn. Completion of the deal is reportedly threatened by the recent stories about Yahoo's security failings. Read the rest

This sexist music video gets real meta real fast

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Prepare to go down a rabbit hole of modern life in this incredible video for "Bike Engine" by Stylo G x Jacob Plant. Read the rest

Canadian man accused of smuggling $180k in gold in own arse

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An employee of the Royal Canadian Mint stands accused of smuggling $180,000-worth of gold out of the institution in his rectum, reports Kelley Egan of the Ottawa Citizen, "evading multiple levels of detection with a time-honoured prison trick."

“Appalling,” was the conclusion of defence lawyer Gary Barnes, who described the Crown’s case as an underwhelming collection of circumstantial evidence.

“This is the Royal Canadian Mint, your Honour, and one would think they should have the highest security measures imaginable,” Barnes said in his closing submission.

“And here the gold is left sitting around in open buckets.”

Some crimes have a smoking gun. But this one had a coating gunge.

Investigators also found a container of vaseline in his locker and the trial was presented with the prospect that a puck could be concealed in an anal cavity and not be detected by the wand. In preparation for these proceedings, in fact, a security employee actually tested the idea, Barnes said. Lawrence did not take the stand — as is his legal right — and the Crown was not able to definitively establish how the gold pucks made their way out of the facility.
Read the rest

Short history of comic book lettering

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There was no one like Artie Simek (1916-1975), who lettered most of Marvel's Silver Age titles. This terrific short documentary about comic book lettering makes me want to pull out my Ames Lettering Guide and nib pen. Read the rest

Class action suit: smart sex toys spy on their owners and transmit their masturbation habits

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An anonymous woman has filed a class action suit against Standard Innovation, a company that makes We-Vibe "smart" sex toys that record exactly how their owners masturbate and transmit detailed dossiers, along with personally identifying information, back to the company. Read the rest

A socialist wrote the Pledge of Allegiance, which used to be accompanied by Nazi salutes

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Socialist minister Francis J. Bellamy wrote the Pledge of Allegiance in the 1890s in an effort to paper over the post-Civil War divisions; to accompany it, he devised the "Bellamy Salute": "raise your right hand, flip your palm down, point it toward the flag in a salute and recite the words." Read the rest

Spike Jonze + Sia's "Chandelier" choreographer = Walkenesque insanity

mutant-brain
If you liked the videos for Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice" and Sia's "Chandelier," you might like this choreographed ad starring Margaret Qualley, set to Sam Spiegel & Ape Drums' "Mutant Brain." Read the rest

Create your own "Stranger Things" title

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Make It Stranger can turn any two words into a Stranger Things style title. Read the rest

10 Revolutions

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A moody, beautiful vignette honoring the landscape around Sitka, Alaska. Read the rest

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