Woman wins suit against New Jersey to use 8THEIST license plate

Two years ago Shannon Morgan of New Jersey ordered a vanity license plate that read 8THEIST. State officials denied her order, explaining that it might be considered offensive. She sued and won. The state Motor Vehicle Commission will also have to pay Morgan $75,000 to resolve her claim. They don't give a damn, because it's taxpayer money that they'll use to pay for their foolishness. Everyone in the chain of command who rejected the license plate request should be fired and barred from working for the government ever again, and forced to wear a colander on their head for the term of their natural lives, if you ask me.

Bonus: as a result of the lawsuit, the DMV must also issue the following vanity plates or "combinations that are substantially similar": SECULAR, RATIONL, HUMANST, ATHEISM, GODLESS, HEATHEN, HERETIC, SKEPTIC, BLASFMR, REASON, EVOLVE, TRANS, LGBTR.TS, LGBTQ, PRIDE, QUEER, GAYPOWR, LGBTALY, FEMINISM, FEMINST, EQUALITY and 4WOMEN.

[via] Read the rest

SASSY TRUMP: 'Obama Founded ISIS'

Another genius voicedub by Peter Serafinowicz. Remember, the words are all Donald Trump's. Only the delivery is different. Read the rest

Hijab-wearing Muslim woman racially profiled as 'terrorist' sues Chicago police

A young Muslim woman is suing Chicago police who decided she was a "lone wolf" terrorist because she wore a hijab, or headscarf, and was walking briskly out of a city subway station on the Fourth of July last year while wearing a backpack. Read the rest

Kepler Space Telescope Watches Stellar Dancers in the Pleiades Cluster

Here's a wonderful feature about my favorite constellation and the galaxy's most awesome telescope (at least one of them!) from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. Read the rest

How about we fix America by just turning Oklahoma into a giant lake?

In this time of national trauma and political chaos where everyone is being a total shit to each other and the only thing all the sides can agree on is that they can’t agree on anything - we need something to unify us. Something that, as a country, we can shed partisan differences and rally behind. Something like building the railroads, sending a man to the moon. Something that crosses party lines and is pure and perfect, like inside plumbing and laughing at people who call soccer football. Here, our politicians and political parties have failed us.

My friend Morgen and I have an answer.

Turn Oklahoma into a lake. Read the rest

Here's the banned video of late Toronto mayor Rob Ford smoking crack

The publication ban has been lifted on beloved conservative hero and former mayor of Toronto Rob Ford smoking crack and babbling incoherently. He seems familiar with the use of a crack pipe.

From The Toronto Star:

Nothing apart from that illness — not documented substance abuse, or allegations of drunk driving, racism, homophobia or a lack of political control over council — kept Ford from mounting a real challenge to return to the mayor’s chair in 2014.

He was never charged. He never testified. Those on the periphery of the whirling saga, like Lisi, who still declare loyalty to the late Ford, faced criminal charges. Ford’s former staff and friends were interviewed by police and compelled to tell their version of the story under oath.

When news of the video’s existence was first published by the Star and Gawker in May 2013, it soon reached nightly international talk show levels.

It’s a video the late Ford tried to deny was real, facing an onslaught of questions as mayor of Canada’s largest city. At first, Ford said he could not comment on a video “that I have never seen or does not exist.”

Months later, Ford would admit to smoking crack (once, in one of his “drunken stupors”).

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#RightToRecord: DOJ must investigate arrests of citizens who document police killings

Editor's Note: The International Documentary Association has released a petition that asks the Department of Justice to investigate the arrests of citizen journalists who videotape police killings of citizens in marginalized communities. Boing Boing asked documentary filmmakers Laura Poitras and David Felix Sutcliffe to share with our readers why the fight to protect the rights of these amateur documentarians matters so much for all of us.—Xeni Jardin

Citizen journalists are reporting from the frontline of police violence in the United States. Using camera phones, they recorded the final moments of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Freddie Gray, and Eric Garner. In each case, the police retaliated by arresting those citizens - either in the immediate aftermath of the killings, or within 24 hours of the deaths being ruled homicides by medical examiners. Read the rest

How self-driving cars could make everything worse, and what to do about it

The promise of self-driving cars is to take our vehicle fleets from 5% utilization to near-100% utilization, reducing congestion, parking problems, emissions and road accidents. But what if the cheapest way to "park" your autonomous vehicle is to have it endlessly circle the block while you're at work? What do we do about the lost jobs of bus-, truck- and cab-drivers? How will we pay for roads if gas-tax revenues plummet thanks to all-electric fleets? Read the rest

Feats of strength

An essential parenting skill (Thanks, Fipi Lele!) Read the rest

If the 2016 election is hacked, it's because no one listened to these people

Ever since the Supreme Court ordered the nation's voting authorities to get their act together in 2002 in the wake of Bush v Gore, tech companies have been flogging touchscreen voting machines to willing buyers across the country, while a cadre computer scientists trained in Ed Felten's labs at Princeton have shown again and again and again and again that these machines are absolutely unfit for purpose, are trivial to hack, and endanger the US election system. Read the rest

Why are these children "sieg heiling" the American flag?

In this 1915 photo, the children appear to be raising their arms in a siege heil salute of the American flag. Actually, this gesture was part of the Pledge of Allegiance ritual for decades. Then, um, Hitler happened. From Smithsonian:

Originally known as the Bellamy Salute, the gesture came to be in the 1890s, when the Pledge of Allegiance was written by Francis J. Bellamy. The Christian socialist minister was recruited to write a patriotic pledge to the American flag as part of magazine mogul Daniel Sharp Ford’s quest to get the flag into public schools.

At the time... Bellamy and his boss both agreed that the Civil War had divided American loyalties and that the flag might be able to bridge those gaps. His campaign centered around the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the new world. He published his new Pledge as part of a unified Columbus Day ceremony program in September 1892 in the pages of the Youth’s Companion, a popular children’s magazine with a circulation of 500,000.

“At a signal from the Principal,” Bellamy wrote, “the pupils, in ordered ranks, hands to the side, face the Flag. Another signal is given; every pupil gives the flag the military salute—right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with the forehead and close to it. Standing thus, all repeat together, slowly, 'I pledge allegiance to my Flag…'”

Then in the 1930s, Hitler reportedly saw Italian Fascists doing a similar gesture, likely based on an ancient Roman custom, and adopted it for the Nazi party. Read the rest

Forget Skynet: AI is already making things terrible for people who aren't rich white dudes

Kate Crawford (previously) takes to the New York Times's editorial page to ask why rich white guys act like the big risk of machine-learning systems is that they'll evolve into Skynet-like apex-predators that subjugate the human race, when there are already rampant problems with machine learning: algorithmic racist sentencing, algorithmic, racist and sexist discrimination, algorithmic harassment, algorithmic hiring bias, algorithmic terrorist watchlisting, algorithmic racist policing, and a host of other algorithmic cruelties and nonsense, each one imbued with unassailable objectivity thanks to its mathematical underpinnings. Read the rest

Man celebrated Oakland A's World Series win with a baseball in the rectum

According to a medical report published in the January 1977 issue of Diseases of the Colon & Rectum (great bathroom reading! - ed.), a 49-year-old man was admitted to a San Francisco hospital complaining of severe pain. A "firm, fixed, round object" was found to be lodged high in his rectum. The man then admitted that he and his sexual partner had celebrated the Oakland A's World Series win by having a baseball inserted into his ass.

After the physicians tried various techniques to remove it, the baseball was finally "skewered with a corkscrew instrument" and pushed through an incision in the fellow's colon.

According to the medical report, "Follow-up examination a year later revealed normal bladder and rectal functions."

(Weird Universe)

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Apple USB-to-lighting cable with built-in battery

This looks like it could come in handy - the Jackery Jewel is a MFU-certified Lightning-to-USB charging cable with a built-in 450 mAh battery. It's $16 on Amazon with promo code JERJEWEL. I just ordered one. Read the rest

Watch the (very weird) first USSR television commercial

This surreal advertisement for corn from 1964 is reportedly the USSR's first TV commercial.

Over at r/ObscureMedia, amer_amer kindly offers this translation:

If you would like to be healthy, fed for a hundred years, ask with a kind word at restaurants and cafeterias (and) recieve dinner wait, sit down, don't rush wait... (and) recieve dinner. Chef: where are you from? Corn: (unintelligible)... We were grown in azerbaijan, in a southern warm country, in the virgin lands of kasakhstan. Chef: understood. so what do you want? Corn: we want to get on the menu. Chef: i'm sorry, and i'm not kicking you out, but i'm not changing the menu. (The dishes start sliding) And the salads, and the soups, and (dishes) made from maize groats, and with sugar: porridge, pudding and cakes, and appetizers and garnish. Peace for all (i think). What a dish, absolutely spectacular! Every day will be prepared! Chef: and let me tell you something, all these dished can be made easily by any hostess (as in housewife).

(Thanks, UPSO!)

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The US sics its robot drone army on Canada’s water supply in "We Stand on Guard"

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

We Stand on Guard

by Brian K. Vaughan (author), Steve Skroce (artist) and Matt Hollingsworth (artist)

Image Comics

2016, 160 pages, 7.3 x 11.1 x 0.6 inches (hardcover)

$17 Buy a copy on Amazon

You know those cheeky jokes about the United States invading Canada? No one is laughing in Brian K. Vaughn’s We Stand on Guard, an extremely tense, often brutal, military sci-fi thriller with an obvious political point to make.

Some 100 years in the future, an allegedly Canadian drone strike on the White House destroys it, killing the president. The US responds with everything it’s got while Canada screams false flag attack, an excuse for the US to come after Canada’s precious water resources (which, surprise, the US is plumb out of). The US deploys its immense drone arsenals, including giant, stompy mecha robots, and “hoser ships,” aerial tankers that fly over Canada sucking up all of her water. The story in the book revolves around a group of Canadian guerilla fighters trying to repel the US occupation.

While the subject matter is intense and the pacing of the book rarely lets you catch your breath, there is levity, too. There are plenty of insider Canadian jokes, a character from Quebec whose French dialog is never translated, and an ongoing bit about Superman having Canadian roots (he was co-created by Canadian artist Joseph Shuster). And while there is plenty of action, with everything from skirmish combat to giant, all-out battlefield hellfire, this is a very dialog-driven book and a book that is chalk full of interesting speculative tech and a believable near-future world. Read the rest

“A honeypot for assholes”: Inside Twitter’s 10-year failure to stop harassment

Charlie Warzel of Buzzfeed has written a long piece about Twitter's apparently inability to prevent neo-Nazis, rape apologists, death threats, and racism from flourishing on the platform.

In 2013, Caroline Criado-Perez launched a campaign to put Jane Austen on UK currency and quickly became the target of more than 50 rape threats per hour — which forced Twitter to roll out a “report abuse” feature for individual tweets. The feature came roughly six years into the company’s history and more than five years after [Ariel] Waldman’s ordeal. “It feels like, not only did they have opportunities early on to tackle this, but they had the ability to step up and be a leader in this space — to be proactive instead of reactive,” Waldman said. “That they haven’t done that is beyond me and it’s reckless.”

Around that time, high-profile harassment cases became a weekly, if not daily, occurrence, especially in the UK. Sinéad O’Connor was driven off the service in 2011; she later told the Daily Mail she was “getting too much abuse.” Downton Abbey actor Lily James quit after she became the target of hundreds of hateful tweets about her appearance. Actor Matt Lucas had to shut down his account after trolls wouldn’t stop harassing him after the death of his partner. In the US, stories of Twitter harassment of women, people of color, and religious minorities appeared with increasing frequency, coming to a head in August 2014, when Robin Williams’ daughter Zelda was forced to quit Twitter after trolls flooded her mentions with photoshopped images of her recently deceased father.

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