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TSA agents demand bag-search to look for "Bitcoins"

Davi Barker was flying from Manchester, NH when, he says, he was stopped by two men who identified themselves as "managers" for the TSA, who claimed they had seen Bitcoins in his baggage and wanted to be sure he wasn't transporting more than $10,000 worth. When he asked them what they thought a Bitcoin looked like, they allegedly said that it looked like a coin or a medallion. (via Hacker News) Cory 63

NH legislator introduces bill to stop small-town cops from buying tanks

New Hampshire state representative J.R. Hoell has introduced state legislation that will require police departments to get approval from citizens at a town hall meeting before they buy military-style gear. The bill, called the Police Equipment and Community Engagement (PEACE) Act, was prompted by the city of Concord buying its police department an armored assault vehicle, a decision justified in part by the police department's stated need to fight protest groups such as Occupy.

The vehicle in question, a Lenco Bearcat, costs $258,000 and was widely opposed by the people of Concord, a town of 42,000 which has experienced three murders in the past ten years. The decision was justified in part by "recent murders and armed robberies" -- but Concord had no murders in 2012 or 2013, and police responded to 20 armed robberies -- the same number of robberies as the town experienced, on average, for the preceding decade.

Above, a video from a retired USMC colonel explaining why he doesn't want his local cops driving around in tanks.

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Lessig's Walk Across New Hampshire: animation explains crusade against electoral corruption

Brian sez, "Lawrence Lessig, former EFF board member, chair of the Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, founder of the Center for Internet and Society, founding board member of Creative Commons, and former board member of the Free Software Foundation is taking on a new project -- walking across New Hampshire.

"The idea is to raise awareness of the massive amount of political corruption in the American democratic system, and make it the #1 issue in New Hampshire in time for the 2016 Presidential Primaries. This three-minute video (from the guy who did the Windows 8 and Data Caps animations) explains the project, called the New Hampshire Rebellion, in cartoon form."

Animated: How the New Hampshire Rebellion will make corruption the #1 issue of 2016 (Thanks, Brian)

Walk across New Hampshire with Larry Lessig and friends to reform campaign finance and fight corruption

Larry Lessig and friends are walking the length of New Hampshire for #NHRebellion, to reform campaign finance and try to end corruption in American politics (see Larry's excellent TED Talk about this, above). The two-week walk starts on January 11, the anniversary of Aaron Swartz's death. You can walk with Larry and the rest of the NHRebellion, or you can sponsor them (or both!).

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Unknown mathematician makes historical breakthrough in prime theory

Yitang Zhang is a largely unknown mathematician who has struggled to find an academic job after he got his PhD, working at a Subway sandwich shop before getting a gig as a lecturer at the University of New Hampshire. He's just had a paper accepted for publication in Annals of Mathematics, which appears to make a breakthrough towards proving one of mathematics' oldest, most difficult, and most significant conjectures, concerning "twin" prime numbers. According to the Simons Science News article, Zhang is shy, but is a very good, clear writer and lecturer.

For hundreds of years, mathematicians have speculated that there are infinitely many twin prime pairs. In 1849, French mathematician Alphonse de Polignac extended this conjecture to the idea that there should be infinitely many prime pairs for any possible finite gap, not just 2.

Since that time, the intrinsic appeal of these conjectures has given them the status of a mathematical holy grail, even though they have no known applications. But despite many efforts at proving them, mathematicians weren’t able to rule out the possibility that the gaps between primes grow and grow, eventually exceeding any particular bound.

Now Zhang has broken through this barrier. His paper shows that there is some number N smaller than 70 million such that there are infinitely many pairs of primes that differ by N. No matter how far you go into the deserts of the truly gargantuan prime numbers — no matter how sparse the primes become — you will keep finding prime pairs that differ by less than 70 million.

The result is “astounding,” said Daniel Goldston, a number theorist at San Jose State University. “It’s one of those problems you weren’t sure people would ever be able to solve.”

Unknown Mathematician Proves Elusive Property of Prime Numbers [Erica Klarreich/Wired/Simons Science News]

(Photo: University of New Hampshire)

Cory coming to Concord, NH today!

Hey, Concord, NH! I'm at Gibson's Bookstore today at 3PM. Tomorrow, I'm in DC, then Cambridge, MA. Come on out! Cory

Handmade lockpicks from old bandsaw blades


The wonderful folks at the Port City Makerspace had me over to their enormous, beautiful spot this evening, and gifted me with "the keys to the city," in the form of a set of handmade lockpicks from their own Tinker Woodworks. The picks are gorgeous. Seriously.

This is a handmade set of lockpicks with a leather case. The picks are shaped out of old bandsaw blades. I chose the pick shapes based on which picks have been most useful to me in my lock picking exploits. The case is made by soaking the leather and stitching it around a form to fit the picks. The case is about five inches long and fits nicely into a jacket pocket. I can do some simple embroidery on the case similar to the key embroidery in the pictures on one of the cases, or a persons initials, etc. Contact me if you want embroidery on the case. Otherwise the case will be the plain ones depicted. The kit comes with the three picks and two different size tension wrenches.

Lockpick tool set with leather case

Cory in Portsmouth, NH tonight

Hey, Portsmouth, NH! I'll be at RiverRun Books tonight at 7PM (I'll also be at the Liberty Forum in Nashua). Tomorrow, I'm in Concord, before heading to DC. There's plenty more to come, too! Tell your friends! Cory