UK Intellectual Property Office grants trademark on "should've"

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The trademark was granted to discount eyewear company Specsavers, whose slogan is "should've gone to Specsavers." If you object, you have until October 12 to file with the IPO. Read the rest

John Oliver on subprime auto-lending and its killswitches

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We've been following the trade in remote kill-switches for cars sold to subprime borrowers since 2009, and watched in dismay as they got worse and worse: though John Oliver's report on the billions inflating the subprime auto-lending bubble touches on these, he focuses on the economic factors -- sleaze, corruption, moral hazard -- driving the tech. Read the rest

Scalpers drive Harry Potter play prices from £140 to £8,327

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What do you get when you combine fantastic wealth-inequality with winner-take-all entertainment economics and high-speed trading algorithms? The Viagogo marketplace, where botmasters who've harvested every available ticket for the new Harry Potter play, Harry Potter & the Cursed Child are auctioning them off to the war-criminals and financiers who've colonized London since the Blair years -- with Viagogo trousering a healthy £1,772.53 transaction fee on each ticket. Read the rest

How self-driving cars could make everything worse, and what to do about it

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The promise of self-driving cars is to take our vehicle fleets from 5% utilization to near-100% utilization, reducing congestion, parking problems, emissions and road accidents. But what if the cheapest way to "park" your autonomous vehicle is to have it endlessly circle the block while you're at work? What do we do about the lost jobs of bus-, truck- and cab-drivers? How will we pay for roads if gas-tax revenues plummet thanks to all-electric fleets? Read the rest

As social media centralized, blogging's core infrastructure has withered

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When "social media" meant "blogs," there were many tools, services and protocols that comprised an infrastructure for federated, open, loosely joined interaction: the rise of the social giants has killed off much of this infrastructure, all but erasing it from our memories. Read the rest

Why did it take a private foundation to do public science right?


Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen funded the Allen Brain Observatory, a detailed, rich data-set derived from parts of a mouse-brain: what's striking is that the Allen Institute released all the data into the public domain, at once, as soon as it was available, which is exactly what you'd want the publicly funded alternatives to do, and what they almost never do. Read the rest

Profile of People's Ride: a co-operative, driver-owned alternative to Uber


People's Ride is a co-op ride-hailing company in Grand Rapids, Michigan: drivers own the service in common and collectively decide how to spend its profits (for example, on deploying an app to go with its website); for-profit competitors like Uber take 30% commissions from their drivers and deliver them to investors, while People's Ride spends all the revenue paying drivers and improving the service. Read the rest

Monopoly power and the decline of small business: big business vs democracy, growth & equality


In the 15 years between 1997 and 2012: 72,000 small US manufacturers shut down; as did 108,000 local retailers and 13,000 community banks (fully half of America's complement of small banks!). The number of US startups has dropped by 50% since 1970. These statistics are not the result of the changing times: they're due to massive, monopolistic corporations stacking the deck against small competitors through unfair and corrupt practices, to the detriment of American growth, equality and democracy. Read the rest

New brand empowers teen fashion designers through creativity and business


My wife Kelly Sparks is design director at Epic Sky, a new fashion brand that's all about empowering young teen and tween girls. Rather than just trying to guess what young people want in clothes, Epic Sky is working with hypertalented teenage designers to develop the collections, and a wide network of teens and tweens to vet the products and contribute content to their site. This past Sunday, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a big spread about the company. Congrats to co-founders Monika Rose and Marian Kown, Kelly, and all the badass women at Epic Sky! From the SF Chronicle:

“We’re all about empowerment and positivity,” says Kwon. “There are a lot of media messages about girls being perfect — that they’re not smart or pretty enough, while our mission is to inspire the epic in every girl. You don’t have to have a perfect body or be the most athletic, which is the pressure a lot of middle school girls face. Snapchat and Instagram put a lot of pressure on girls, too.”

“We offer clothes that fit girls and go beyond stereotypes,” says Rose. “As a mom, I want a brand I can say yes to — clothes that are appropriate for girls’ changing bodies and don’t promote early sexualization. On the market now, you go from a one-piece Speedo to a Brazilian thong, and there’s no option in-between for these girls.” Whereas Epic Sky bikinis, designed by Sausalito 17-year-old Antje Worring, actually look like they’d be comfortable and fun to swim in, not just lie around and look glamorous...

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Tiny business card sculptures of the profession on the card


Paper engineer Petrina Case creates miniature sculptures from business cards that, if so desired, may depict the profession listed on the card. She accepts commissions via her Etsy shop: Petrina Case Studio (via Neatorama)

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Foreign influence: how a Chinese businessman funneled $1.3M to Jeb Bush's campaign


Gordon Tang and Huaidan Chen -- Chinese nationals who live in Singapore -- own a global property speculation and development empire whose US branch is called American Pacific International Capital Inc. They followed a recipe set out in a memo by Charlie Spies, a top Republican lawyer, in order to funnel $1.3M to Jeb Bush's PAC, then Tang offered a reporter for the Intercept $200,000 not to mention that he had been investigated for smuggling, tax evasion and bribery by the Chinese government. Read the rest

How and why to short Uber


Uber's $62.5B valuation is an utterly speculative bet on a company that can only pay out if many sub-bets pay off: the timely arrival of self-driving cars, widespread adoption of car-sharing (rather than private self-driving car ownership), no effective competition from other hailing companies (including those backed by the car manufactuers), regulatory reform to legalize its practices, and smooth sailing for its massive subprime lending program for its drivers. Read the rest

DRM: You have the right to know what you're buying!


Today, the EFF and a coalition of organizations and individuals asked the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to explore fair labeling rules that would require retailers to warn you when the products you buy come locked down by DRM ("Digital Rights Management" or "Digital Restrictions Management"). Read the rest

Lawsuit: Getty Images copyfrauded 47,000 photos from indie press agency Zuma


Photographer, public domain enthusiast, and national treasure Carol M Highsmith is suing Getty Images for $1B because they took the photos she'd donated to the Library of Congress and started asking people who'd used them to pay for them (they even sent Highsmith an invoice!); now it turns out that Highsmith is not alone: independent news agency Zuma is suing Getty for doing the same thing with 47,000 of their images. Read the rest

Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz calls Apple's tax strategy a "fraud"


2001 Nobel laureate in economics Joseph Stiglitz has a long history of being on the right side of history. For example: pricing the Iraq war at $3T; raising the alarm about sovereign wealth funds acquiring US debt; nailing the double-standard on bailouts for debt crises (and the way that this destabilizes poor countries); sounding the alarm about austerity in times of recesssion; coming out early and strong over wealth concentration; calling for the imprisonment of the top executives at Barclays bank; and damning the TPP as "the worst trade deal ever." Read the rest

Dark Patterns: why do companies pursue strategies that make their customers regret doing business?


In this 30 minute video, Harry Brignull rounds up his work on cataloging and unpicking "Dark Patterns," (previously) the super-optimized techniques used by online services to lure their customers into taking actions they would not make otherwise and will later regret. Read the rest

Silicon Valley banks offer tech giants' new hires 100% mortgages on 24 hours' notice

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What to do if you've just signed up to work in one of the most expensive real-estate markets in the world, with almost all of your net worth tied up in illiquid shares in your employer's company? Just ask a Silicon Valley bank for a 100% mortgage, which they'll cheerfully supply on 24 hours' notice, with all the "white-glove service" trappings you could ask for. Read the rest

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