Corporations influence politics, but not in the way you think you do

It's not that they buy politicians (there's some of that), it's that they order their workers donate to, write to, and vote for their preferred politicians, with reprisals for employees who don't toe the company line. Read the rest

Good news for high-frequency masturbators

"After controlling for potential confounders, higher monthly ejaculation frequency was associated with a statistically significant decreased risk of total prostate cancer compared to the reference group at every time period." Read the rest

How musicians can piece together a record label from pieces of the Internet

Rutgers law prof Michael Carrier rebuts the RIAA's assertion -- backed by laughably cherry-picked bad stats -- that the number of working musicians is in decline. Read the rest

Statistics Done Wrong: The Woefully Complete Guide

From a brilliant Web-rant to an indispensable guide to the perils of statistics and their remedies, Alex Reinhart's Statistics Gone Wrong is a spotter's guide to arrant nonsense cloaked in mathematical respectability.

Experimental plugin lets computers share URLs with ultrasonic tones

Tone is an experimental Chrome plugin from Google Research that lets computers share small amounts of information (like URLs) with ultrasonic chirps. Read the rest

Paper on changing peoples' minds about marriage equality retracted

If you, like me, were given hope by the uplifting This American Life story on how door-to-door canvassing by LGBT people about marriage equality changed peoples' minds, I've got bad news for you. Read the rest

Copyfighting, jailbreaking legend Ed Felten is the White House's new deputy CTO

He'll serve under the brilliant Megan Smith, the CTO. Read the rest

Finance deserves its corrupt reputation

Harvard/Chicago economist Luigi Zingales published a sharply argued, searing paper about the finance industry's reputation for corruption and social uselessness, concluding that it's largely deserved and that academic economists have a role to play in reforming it. Read the rest

LISTEN: MIT discussion about online harassment

Andrew writes, "Last night MIT's Comparative Media Studies/Writing program hosted Brianna Wu of Giant Spacekat and law professor Danielle Keats Citron, author of Hate Crimes in Cyberspace. With their permission, we recorded the talk (AIFF) so others could hear their discussion about online harassment, GamerGate, revenge porn -- and what our laws can do about it." Read the rest

Uncovering sexual preferences by data-mining sex-toy sales [NSFW]

UK sex-toy retailer Lovehoney allowed researcher Jon Millward to data-mine its huge database of over 1,000,000 sex-toy purchases and 45,000 reviews, in order to see what he could infer about Britons' sexual proclivities from the things they bought. Read the rest

What it's like to teach evolution at the University of Kentucky

James Krupa has taught University of Kentucky non-science majors their required biology course for 20 years, and he views the job as a mission, to undo the cowardice or squeamishness or lack of rigor that leads Kentucky's children to arrive at university never having learned the foundations of evolution, on which the whole edifice of biology rests. Read the rest

Welfare encourages entrepreneurship

Conservatives wring their hands at the "moral hazard" of letting people earn without working, but clever, long-running empirical research projects show that people who fear starvation and medical bankruptcy don't quit their jobs and start new business. Read the rest

Backchannel: computers can talk to each other with heat

A paper by Ben Gurion University researchers to be presented at a Tel Aviv security conference demonstrates "Bitwhisper," a covert communications channel that allows computers to exchange data by varying their temperature, which can be detected by target machines within 40cm. Read the rest

Automating remote BIOS attacks

Legbacore's upcoming "digital voodoo" presentation will reveal an automated means of discovering BIOS defects that are vulnerable to remote attacks, meaning that your computer can be compromised below the level of the OS by attackers who do not have physical access to it. Read the rest

Italy's Hacking Team allegedly sold Ethiopia's despots cyberweapons used to attack journalists

Ethopia's despotic regime has become the world's first "turnkey surveillance state," thanks to technology sold to it by western companies, including, it seems, Italy's Hacking Team, whose RCS spyware product is implicated in an attack on exiled, US-based journalists reporting on government corruption. Read the rest

First-ever photo of light behaving as a wave and particle

Nicholas writes, "Since Einstein's day, scientists have been trying to directly observe the wave- and particle- aspects of light at the same time. Now, scientists at a Swiss lab have succeeded in capturing the first-ever snapshot of this dual behavior." Read the rest

Fair use: a guide for artists

Pat from American University's Center for Media and Social Impact writes, "Can an artist use images from Facebook in her collage? Can an art teacher show pictures he took at an exhibition in class? Can a museum put a collection online?" Read the rest

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