What happened when a parent fought for his kid's privacy at an all-Chromebook school

Katherine W was seven when her third-grade teacher issued Chromebooks to her class. Her dad, Jeff, is a serious techie, but the school's tech choices didn't sit well with him. He was able to get Katherine an exception that let her use a more private, non-cloud computer for the year, but the next year, Katherine's school said she would have to switch to a laptop that would exfiltrate everything she did to Google's data-centers. Read the rest

A profile of America's killingest cops: the police of Kern County, CA

The predominantly white police of predominantly black and Latino, Tea-Party-governed Kern County, California kill more people per capita than any other force in America. The Guardian's Jon Swaine, Oliver Laughland and Mae Ryan have produced an amazing, deep, interactive profile of a force whose killings are investigated internally and cursorily recorded in a poor, remote area with high unemployment and a meth epidemic. Read the rest

The word "taser" comes from an old racist science fiction novel

Taser inventor Jack Cover named his gadget after a zapper from Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle, a 1911 YA science fiction novel by Victor Appleton that tells the story of a hero who travels to Africa to get rich by killing elephants for their ivory, and who encounters racist caricatures of "natives" who he fights off with his "electric rifle." Read the rest

HOWTO pack a suit so it doesn't wrinkle

If you have to travel with a suit and don't fancy ironing it when you arrive, you can use one of two methods (depending on the size of your suitcase) to pack it so that it unpacks ready to wear. Read the rest

Newly discovered WEB Du Bois science fiction story reveals more Afrofuturist history

NAACP founder WEB Du Bois wasn't just a committed, effective activist for the rights of black people in America: he was also a prolific author of early 20th century science fiction and fantasy stories. Read the rest

A roadmap for killing TPP: the next SOPA uprising!

The Trans Pacific Partnership is the largest "trade deal" in history, negotiated in secret and encompassing many issues unrelated to trade, including rules that make the Internet less secure, easier to censor and spy on, and more subject to corporate dominance. Read the rest

Wikipedia Russia suspends editor who tried to cut deal with Russian authorities

A Wikipedia editors has been suspended after he organized a meeting with the Russian Federal Drug Control Service (as well as Rospotrebnadzor, a consumer rights watchdog, and Roskomnadzor, a media watchdog) to set terms under which "the expert opinion of authorized government bodies" would be inserted into Wikipedia entires on “socially sensitive” topics. Read the rest

Vtech toy data-breach gets worse: 6.3 million children implicated

The Hong Kong-based toymaker/crapgadget purveyor didn't even know it had been breached until journalists from Vice asked why data from its millions of customers and their families were in the hands of a hacker, and then the company tried to downplay the breach and delayed telling its customers about it. Read the rest

Ironically, modern surveillance states are baffled by people who change countries

Scott Smith and his family moved from the USA to the Netherlands and discovered that despite living in the most heavily surveilled moment in human history, neither his old country nor his new one can figure out how to relate to them. Read the rest

Mozilla will let go of Thunderbird

The Mozilla Foundation stopped active development of the Thunderbird stand-alone email client in 2012, a year before Edward Snowden's revelations about mass email interception by spy agencies sparked an exodus from webmail platforms. Read the rest

Rosa Parks was a radical, lifelong black liberation activist, not a "meek seamstress"

Jeanne Theoharis, an academic who wrote the biography The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, reminds us that the historical account of Rosa Parks as an apolitical seamstress who was too tired and exasperated to go to the back of the bus is a fiction: Parks was a brave, committed lifelong race and gender activist who risked her life and livelihood for a cause that she championed ferociously from an early age and never abandoned. Read the rest

Spider Robinson on "Writer's Tears" Irish whiskey

[Editor's note: science fiction novelist Spider Robinson forever influenced my liquor consumption habits with the rhapsodic praises for Bushmill's 1608 Irish whiskey that feature in so many of his books. I've bought rather a large number of bottles of the stuff. So when I got this email (with the subject "Unsolicited testimonial") from him in my inbox this morning, I did two things: ordered a bottle and asked if I could republish the email here here. Spider graciously permitted this. -Cory]

I’ve tried most high-end Irish whiskeys, and always kept coming back to Bushmills 1608. But I just switched loyalties.

I freely confess I was initially attracted by the name alone. I’d have bought my first bottle just to own the bottle, even if the contents had been undrinkable. But it’s not why I’m now already up to my sixth bottle—and at approximately CAN$65 per bottle! In my opinion, it tastes like what God drinks when He’s sitting at His typewriter. Whiskey—uisge baugh—means “water of Life.” This tastes to me a bit like the first tide pool that developed chemistry sophisticated enough to make its own alcohol. I just gave bottles to my siblings for Christmas, and I recommend the stuff unreservedly to you, my friends.

If your local Liquor Commission doesn’t stock it and is too stupid to order it for you, just Google up the online hootch-delivery service called Master Of Malt, and you’ll be drinking it less than a week later without paying shipping, plus they’ll happily sell you either 1 or 6 handsome tasting glasses for a reasonable extra sum. Read the rest

This line from a Rage Against The Machine song sounds like something funny in Japanese

“Rage Against the Machine's Killing in the Name lyrics "and now you do what they told ya" sounds like 'break the chicken nuggets, daddy' in Japanese,” says Redditor seasalty_. “A television show made a video about it.” Read the rest

How to calm a crying baby

How to calm a crying baby? Just let the little guy watch this video. Read the rest

A young cartoonist takes her very old grandparents on a cruise, and finds it exhausting

I'm pretty bad at keeping up with new cartoonists. I'm stuck in the world of artists who emerged in the 80s and 90s: Daniel Clowes, Mary Fleener, Julie Doucet, Carol Tyler, Lynda Barry, Los Bros Hernandez, Jim Woodring, Roberta Gregory, Peter Bagge, Chris Ware, Dori Seda.

Lucy Knisley is one of the rare younger cartoonists that I've gotten hooked on. (I interviewed Lucy on my podcast Gweek in 2013.) I'm a fan of the "ligne claire" drawing style, which Lucy exemplifies, and her sense of page composition is clean but with the perfect whimsical touch. She also colors her drawings with watercolors, not Photoshop, so they have a nice texture.

Her work is mostly autobiographical. Her 2008 book, French Milk, is an illustrated journal about living (and eating) in Paris with her mother. Her next book, Relish, is about growing up in the food industry.

In 2015 she wrote Displacement, a comic book travelogue about taking her frail grandparents on an ocean cruise. Lucy does not have children, and was not familiar with taking care of dependent people, so she was stunned by how exhausting the "vacation" was. Her 91-year-old grandmother had dementia and didn't really know who Lucy was, and her 93-year-old grandfather had an incontinence problem that he didn't care about. Lucy ended up having to wash his trousers every evening when she was able to convince him to take them off.

In between the diary entries about things like waiting in line for 3 hours to board the ship, calling her father asking for help (he wasn't helpful), and putting up with the bossy ship's crew, Lucy included excerpts from her grandfather's WWII journal, which shows him to be an excellent, observant writer, much like Lucy herself. Read the rest

Man arrested with 51 turtles in his pants

Kai Xu was arrested attempting to cross into Canada from Detroit, Michigan with 51 live turtles down his pants, mostly strapped to his legs. He was apparently smuggling the turtles he had bought to resell outside the US at much higher prices. From the Associated Press:

The investigation had started after a courier company in Detroit tipped the wildlife service to a package that had been shipped from Alabama addressed to Xu.

According to the court documents, agents watched as Xu allegedly opened various boxes in the rear of his SUV, took out several round clear plastic containers, and placed their contents into plastic baggies. He also had packaging tape and scissors.

“Special Agent (James) Fuller noticed irregularly shaped bulges under Xu’s sweatpants on both his legs,” the document states.

Read the rest

Check out the hot women in the 2016 Pirelli Tire Calendar

For 50 years, the Pirelli Calendar has featured mostly naked models captured by famed photographers in exotic locales. Not this year. Read the rest

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