Boing Boing 

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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Department of Dirty will help Cameron depornify the Internet

Pam writes, "Open Rights Group has produced a new satirical film to raise awareness of internet filters - a spoof campaign by the 'Department of Dirty'."

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Fewer than 10% of UK families opt into "parental" filters

But they're going to be on-by-default, opt-out-only in the near future anyway, because the Great Firewall of Cameron is based on lazy populism, not evidence.

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Photos of rotting WWII sea-forts


Salim writes, "James Creedy hitched a ride with Project Red-Sands to take this set of photos from a these WWII era sea-forts."

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UK government "dries out" its "water damaged" CIA torture files


The Foreign Office said it couldn't provide its files on secret CIA rendition of terrorism suspects for torture, because those files (and only those files) were "water-damaged."

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Open Rights Group wants to sue UK government over #DRIP, needs your help

Parliament has passed #DRIP, a sweeping, illegal surveillance bill that doubles down on the old surveillance law, which was struck down by the European Court for violating fundamental human rights.

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Slo-mo yo-yo trick: uh-oh!

Showman Mat Ricardo sends us "a little clip of one of the new tricks in the 2014 tour of my one man show 'Showman.' We've been touring it around the world over the last year, and can't wait to return for a limited run at the Edinburgh Fringe in August."

GCHQ's black bag of dirty hacking tricks revealed

The dirty tricks used by JTRIG -- the toolsmiths of the UK spy agency GCHQ -- have been published, with details on how the agency manipulates public opinion, censors Youtube, games pageview statistics, spy on Ebay use, conduct DDoS attacks, and connect two unsuspecting parties with one another by phone.

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Understanding #DRIP: new spy powers being rammed through UK Parliament


The party line from MPs who are being told by their parties to vote in mass-scale, warrantless surveillance powers is that the law doesn't change anything -- it's a lie.

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Hearings into mass surveillance begin in UK

The secretive UK investigatory powers tribunal has begun its hearings into the legality of mass surveillance conducted by tapping fiber optic lines, through a Snowden-revealed programme called TEMPORA.

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UK government set to ram through surveillance legislation


The UK government is has put MPs on notice that a bill will be considered and moved on July 14, but they won't say what it is. Veteran Labour MP Tom Watson thinks it's data retention legislation that will enlist the private sector to comprehensively spy on everything you do and save it for long periods, turning it over to the government when asked. And almost no one -- not even MPs -- will get a chance to read the bill right up to the last minute, when they'll be whipped to vote for it by their party leadership.

Pickpocketing as applied neuroscience


Sleights of the Mind, an excellent 2013 book, explored the neuroscience of magic and misdirection, with an absolutely riveting section on stage pickpocket Apollo Robbins and the practical, applied neuroscience on display in his breathtaking stunts (like taking your watch off your wrist without your noticing!).

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TSA tells UK airport security: confiscate broken and out-of-battery gadgets


The TSA has demanded that overseas airports, like London's Heathrow, should require travellers to turn on their electronics before flying to the USA, and ban any broken or out-of-power devices.

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Crowdfunding to send injured "How to Cheat at Everything" author to UK for free healthcare


I've written over the years about Simon Lovell's How to Cheat at Everything, a must-read encyclopedia of cons.

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Painted "bookbenches" spring up across London


The National Literacy Trust has dotted London with painted benches that celebrate classic works of literature from Paddington to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy.

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Terry Pratchett can't attend Discworld convention


For the first time in his long and storied career, Terry Pratchett has canceled a UK appearance, due to his failing health.

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