Boing Boing 

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


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

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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.

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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."

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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?"

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Police questioning techniques make it easy to elicit false accusations


Horrified psychologists discontinued a study into how police interrogation tactics can create unshakable false memories of crimes; but it turns out that police questioning tactics are even better at elicting false accusations of crimes that never even occurred.

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Security researcher releases 10 million username and password combinations


Security researcher Mark Burnett has released 10,000,000 username/password combos he's downloaded from well-publicized hacks, citing the prosecution of Barrett Brown and the looming Obama administration crackdown on security researchers as impetus to do this before it became legally impossible.

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The Haunted Mansion was almost the Tiki Room


Another outstanding photo-essay on the Long Forgotten Haunted Mansion blog shows how many of the original Rolly Crump concepts for a walk-through Haunted Mansion at Disneyland eventually made their way into the Enchanted Tiki Room, with effects based on Cocteau's 1946 movie La Belle et la BĂȘte.

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15-20% of Xmas gifts are crap


"The Deadweight Loss of Christmas," published in American Economic Review (Joel Waldfogel, UMN) estimates that "on average, the waste attributable to poorly chosen seasonal gifts was between 15 and 20 per cent of the purchase price of the gift" ($10B/year in the US alone!).

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Sock-puppet- and traffic-analysis-resistant group conversation protocol

Dissent implements the Dining Cryptographers and Verifiable Shuffling algorithms to produce a group-conversation system that is resistant to traffic analysis. Feels like we're entering the second golden age of cypherpunk.

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37K sentiment-analysis words associated with emotion scores

Hosted on github, Depeche Mood is a lexicon of 37,000 emotional terms, part of the research work in DepecheMood: a Lexicon for Emotion Analysis from Crowd-Annotated News [PDF]. (via O'Reilly Radar)

(Image: rageface_sad_crying, Meme TN, CC-BY)