Nat writes, "A Dunedin, NZ, man lost a bet five years ago and changed his name by deed poll to the longest name he could make (99 characters, 1 shy of the Dept of Internal Affairs limit). I want to know what they were drinking because the name is fantastic. "The 22-year-old man from Normanby is now legally known as 'Full Metal Havok More Sexy N Intelligent Than Spock And All The Superheroes Combined With Frostnova'.
" (Thanks, Nat!
Next Saturday (Mar 15), the SF in SF people will host a screening of indie movie PIG
, an award-winning sf movie, followed by a Q&A with producer Mark Stolaroff, founder of the No Budget Film School
Edward Snowden is speaking at SXSW on Monday
at an event that I'm also part of.Rep Mike Pompeo (R-KS), who sits on the House Intelligence Committee (and on whose watch the abuses that Snowden has detailed occurred) has demanded that his appearance be cancelled
. Pompeo says that Snowden lacks credibility in the area of "privacy, surveillance, and online monitoring." Pompeo demonstrably lacks credibility in the area of the First Amendment.
Dan Gillmor's got more to say
about the news that K-cups are getting coffee DRM
and what it means in the wider world: "Just as the police and security agencies are racing deploy all new technologies to spy on everyone – whether the law permits it or not – private industry is racing to retain as much control as possible over the products and services it sells, and thereby control over us."
The Rochester Institute of Technology has announced America's "first minor in free and open source software and free culture
." (Thanks, Stephen!
The DoJ has filed a motion
to dismiss charges against Barrett Brown related to republishing a link, an act they had previously characterized as a felony. Brown, a journalist, had posted links to the Anonymous dump of emails from private military contractor Stratfor. The US DoJ is still trying to put him in jail for putting his laptop in a cabinet ("obstruction of justice") and losing his shit and ranting about hurting the cops who were hounding him for pasting a link into a chat room (threatening acts).
The Obama administration has a new negotiator in its effort to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a secretly negotiated treaty that includes broad powers to censor and surveil the Internet: Robert Holleyman
, one of the chief SOPA lobbyists. Holleyman just retired from serving as head of the Business Software Alliance. His successor is Victoria Espinel, who just quit the Obama administration, where she served as "IP Czar." Obama promised to shut down the revolving door between lobbyists and government, but it's spinning quicker than ever.
Daniel sez, "Mediagoblin is a free software media publishing platform that anyone can run. You can think of it as a decentralized alternative to Flickr, YouTube, SoundCloud, etc.
Now the project is raising funds to finish their pump-io api, finish version 1.0
and add privacy features."
Kayona Hagen-Tietz, a ninth grader at Como Park High School in St Paul, MN, says she developed frostbite when she was made to stand in -5F weather wearing nothing but a wet bathing suit
. She had been in swim class when the fire-bell rang, and evacuated in nothing but her wet swimsuit. Faculty offered to allow her to wait in a car, but school policy prohibits students from entering cars other than those belonging to family and their delegated help. Eventually, common sense won out, though apparently not soon enough.
(via Free Range Kids
The National Center for Public Policy Research, group of climate deniers with stock in Apple, tried to force a motion to terminate Apple's use of renewable energy (and failed miserably). At the company's AGM, an NCPPR spokesdenier asked Apple CEO Tim Cook to defend the profit-maximization nature of green energy. Cook told him -- more or less -- to go fuck himself
: "If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock."
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
DC resident Ashley Brandt was surprised to meet a TSA agent at Phoenix airport who didn't think that DC drivers' licenses
were valid ID, because DC isn't a state.
King Games, makers of Candy Crush, have backed down from their insane campaign to trademark the use of "Candy" in connection with games, a gambit that brought them ridicule and opprobrium (for example, a game jam where all the games made use of "candy"
), not least because the company bullied competitors who had created candy-themed games years before Candy Crush came to market. However, the company still asserts a trademark over the use of the word "saga" in connection with games, and is trying to shut down The Banner Saga
Ginjer Buchanan, one of science fiction's longest-serving and most influential editors,
from Ace/Roc, after a 30-year career. I've had many occasions to work with Ginjer over the years and found her to be smart, honorable, and dedicated. I'm grateful for all her service to the field, and for all the wonderful books she helped bring to the world.
The 2013 Nebula Award nominees have been announced
by the Science Fiction Writers of America; as always, it's a great roadmap for some of the best science fiction published in the past year. Congrats to all the nominees!
The Catholic Archdiocese of Newark is shutting down its schools due to lack of funding, but it still has a fortune it can use to build a small palace
for its archbishop John J Myers, who is soon to retire after a career whose highlights include dismissing victims of sexual abuse and shielding abusing priests. Also, he insists on being addressed as "Your Grace." He's a made-in-America version of Germany's disgraced "Luxury Bishop
Canonical, the company that publishers Ubuntu (a free/open operating system based on GNU/Linux) has announced that it will ship two Ubuntu OS phones
this year, in partnership with two manufacturers, one in Europe and one in China. The OS runs HTML5 apps, and the company is seeking to have the top 50 apps for Android and Ios ported to its phones before they go live. A 2013 crowdfunding drive
raised over $12M in pledged pre-orders, but the company fell short of its $32M goal and refunded everyone's money. However, the $12M was apparently a sufficient demonstration of interest for at least some manufacturers.
Since 2010, the lucky people of West Virginia have gotten their local phone/Internet service from Frontier Communications, who bought the business from noted shit-shovelers Verizon. In a mere four years, complaints about phone service have plummeted by 68 percent
, and 88 percent
of their customers now have access to broadband. The company has also installed a 2,600-mile-long fiber loop. There is nothing intrinsic about operating a phone network that makes your company into a horror-show, but once the telcos get big, they turn into some of the worst companies in the world.
Peter writes, "My niece has been an unflagging volunteer for as long as I can remember. Recently she's come to realize that maybe everything she might want to do isn't what's actually needed
: 'I think we're finally doing aid right, and I'm not there.'"
An airline passenger with a medical condition requiring small amounts of food at regular intervals was stymied when the LHA TSA declared his peanut butter to be a "liquid." But he cleverly spread the peanut butter onto some saltines, whereupon it was no longer a liquid and was
allowed on the flight
. USA USA USA.
John Henson, son of Muppets creator Jim Henson, has died
at 48 from a heart-attack. Henson, who had no history of heart problems, was a board member of the Jim Henson Company, and sometimes played Sweetums in Muppet movies and shows.
A new Snowden leak, "SUSLOC (Special US Liaison Office Canberra) Facilitates Sensitive DSD Reporting on Trade Talks," details how the NSA mentored and oversaw Australian spies, and sanctioned their surveillance a of US law firm representing the nation of Indonesia
in a trade dispute with Australia. The NSA and their Australian counterparts have captured the master keys for Telkomsel, the Indonesian carrier, and have total access to its communications. It's more evidence that mass surveillance and Internet wiretaps are about economic espionage more than national security -- and more evidence that the NSA is a lawless organization with no respect for foundational principles like attorney-client privilege.
Matt sez, "Probably the most complete hardware workshop ever, you'll design, fab and program a Bluetooth device in a single day
." (Thanks, Matt!
Here's a roundup of some exciting Canadian library/makerspace news
: with makerspaces coming up or open in Edmonton, Hamilton, and Toronto. (Thanks, Gary!
One of the RIAA's best friends in congress, Jerry Nadler, has been appointed to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet
Obama Congressional Democrats
. The history of this committee is nothing short of grotesque: every time it looks like a copyright moderate/friend of the Internet might get appointed to it, it is declared redundant and shut down. Then, once the danger has passed and there's another loony, Internet-hating, censorship-happy copyright maximialist in place to fill a vacant seat, the committee once again becomes relevant and is resurrected.
Rand Paul has launched a class-action suit against the US government over the NSA's warrantless bulk telephone metadata surveillance. Ars Technica has good analysis
of the legal dimension of the suit: basically, Senator Paul isn't really advancing any new arguments, but the suit will put the pressure on the government. Techdirt has reports of outrage
from other Republican congresscritters, especially noted shitweasel Rep Peter King (R-NY), who accuses Paul of aiding terrorists.
The commander of the Iraqi militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) reportedly blew up 21 suicide bombers in training
when he made an error during a live explosives exercise. 15 other trainees were injured. The popular imagination paints terrorists as hundred-foot-tall supermen with the power to destroy entire states simply by staring crosseyed at them, but the reality is that people who are willing to be suicide bombers -- and those who exploit them -- may not be very bright at all.
This week, the city of Pensacola, FL will vote on an "anti-camping" ordinance that makes it a crime to protect yourself from the weather with a blanket or a newspaper
. Its intention is to criminalize homeless people, but, of course, it also makes criminals out of anyone who holds a newspaper over her head in the rain.
Explaining the Snowden leaks to people who don't understand technology crucial, but surely there's a better way than the NYT's terrible piece
on the whistleblower's use of the common free software tool wget to harvest NSA documents. On Techdirt, Mike Masnick's got some epic snark
on the fusty, tone-deaf way the Times approaches technology in its reporting.
is a new news-site created by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill, through their Omidyar-funded startup First Look Media. Its mission is "fearless, adversarial journalism across a wide range of issues." (Thanks, John!