In the Interests of Safety: using evidence to beat back security theater

“Health and Safety” is the all-purpose excuse for any stupid, bureaucratic, humiliating rubbish that officialdom wants to shove down our throats. In the Interests of Safety, from Tracey Brown and Michael Hanlon, is the antidote: an expert dismantling of bad risk-analysis and a call-to-arms to do something about it, fighting superstition and silliness with evidence.

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The Cobra Effect: law of unintended consequences, squared

In British-ruled, cobra-infested India, a bounty was offered for cobra-skins, so enterprising folks started breeding cobras, leading to the program's cancellation, whereupon all those farmed cobras were released into the wild, a net increase in cobra population. That's not the only example, either.

(Image: Cobra, Kamalnv/Wikipedia, CC-BY)

What. Did. You. Feed. That. GODDAMNED. CABBAGE?!


The normally unflappage Barbara Frum interviews a British farmer responsible for a prizewinning cabbage; but the man is both drunk and deaf (and manifestly filled with the spirit of mischief).

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UK police watchdog: burglary and car crime "on verge of being decriminalised"

The Inspectorate of Constabulary says that police now tell victims of property crimes to "solve the crimes themselves," directing them over the phone to review CCTV footage and canvas their neighbourhoods for witnesses.

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Free cybersecurity MOOC


The Open University's "Introduction to Cyber Security" is a free online course -- with optional certificate -- that teaches the fundamentals of crypto, information security, and privacy; I host the series, which starts on Oct 13."

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UK Ministry of Justice loses harddrive with 3,000 prisoners' data, which they forgot to encrypt

Alan sez, "The UK Ministry of Justice was just slapped with a fine for the loss of a hard disk containing data on over 3,000 prisoners. These things happen."

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Citizen Maths: open, free math education for adults


Seb writes, "Citizen Maths is a new CC-BY licensed open online maths course produced in the UK for adults and college students who want to improve their grasp of maths at what in the UK is known as Level 2 (the level that 16 year old school leavers are expected to reach, though many do not)."

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Unused bed colonized by giant horrifying wasp-nest


Exterminator John Birkett found the bed in a house in Winchester, England, in a spare room that had not been entered for several months. The crocheted blanket was saved.

5,000 wasps found in St Cross bedroom [Andrew Napier/Hampshire Chronicle]

(Thanks, PD Smith!)

Petition: remove child-specific antipersonnel device from Welsh library

The Port Authority in the Welsh town of Milford has installed a "Mosquito" -- a sonic weapon that produces tones that are mostly perceptible to children and teenagers -- at the library, where it has been used during opening hours.

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Can technology become a force for global equality, or is the future destined to remain unfair?

Here's video from a debate I participated in at last summer's Howthelightgetsin festival in Wales, with the BBC's Kate Russell and Steve Fuller, an advocate for creationism and transhumanism, who said some pretty silly things, as you might expect.

Scarfolk: creepy blog will be an amazing book

Discovering Scarfolk is a book-length adaptation of the brilliantly creepy Scarfolk Council blog, which chronicles the government publications of a English town that is forever trapped in a loop from 1969-1979, a town that's like Nightvale crossed with Liartown USA, written by John Wyndham.

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Cory's London Worldcon schedule

I'll be joining thousands of fans and hundreds of presenters at Loncon 3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, later this week. I hope to see you there!

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Brits trust Wikipedia more than the BBC, "serious" newspapers


According to a Yougov poll, 64% of Britons believe Wikipedia tells the truth "a great deal" or "a fair amount."

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Wurthering Bytes: UK tech festival in the Pennines


It's family-friendly, only £10/day, including lunch, and features an outstanding and fascinating array of speakers, as well as live music and a hardware-hacking bag for attendees.

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Disrupting elections with Kickstarter-like campaigning apps


The UK parliamentary farce over #DRIP showed us that, more than any other industry, the political machine is in dire need of disruption.

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