A Fresh Voice for San Francisco

Editor's note: I've known Shahid Buttar for years, in his capacity as an activist organizer, drawing on his background as a constitutional lawyer and his deep commitment to a just world to help start effective grassroots groups across America; now Shahid has taken leave from EFF to challenge Nancy Pelosi -- a consistent force for more surveillance and profits over people -- for the Democratic nomination to Congress in California's 12th District. I'm proud to endorse his candidacy. -Cory Read the rest

Trump and the weird attention economy of Facebook

When you try to buy online ads from Facebook's self-serve ad-auctioning platform, merely being the highest bidder isn't enough to guarantee that your ads will get through: Facebook multiplies your bid by a software-generated prediction about how responsive the audience will be to it, so the clickbaitier your ad is, the less it costs to place it. Read the rest

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was surrounded by cowering "good guys with guns"

While a shooter rampaged through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, the school's armed cop (who was a Broward County Sheriff's Deputy) and three of his deputy colleagues were hiding behind a police car outside the school. Read the rest

Gothamist unionized and its evil Trumpist billionaire owner shut it down; now public radio is bringing it back

Last November, evil Trump-supporting billionaire Joe Ricketts shut down Gothamist (and its sister sites) to punish its staff for forming a union. Read the rest

Paul Manafort's inability to save Word files as PDFs provided the evidence necessary to indict him for fraud

Paul Manafort, one-time Trump campaign manager, has been indicted for cooking his books in order to qualify for a loan; prosecutors secured the evidence of his fraud by searching his email, which contained attachments that clearly showed him doctoring his financial statements and then emailing them to his co-conspirator Richard Gates so Gates could convert them to PDFs, which literally just involves selecting "Save As..." and choosing "PDF." Read the rest

Taking one cent, ever, from the NRA should disqualify you from ever running for office as a Democrat

New Jersey State Senator Jeff Van Drew wants to run for Congress as a Democrat; he visited 17-year-old Emily McGrath's school, Egg Harbor Township High, where McGrath questioned him about whether he'd taken money from the NRA; Van Drew said he hadn't, and he was lying. Read the rest

You know who hates Net Neutrality? The NRA.

It's CPAC! The annual far-right hootenanny for preppers, false-flaggers, climate deniers, truthers, and the sort of person who closes their eyes and thinks of The Fountainhead, featuring Marion Maréchal-Le Pen of France, Nigel Farage, Sean Hannity, and mass-murder enthusiast Wayne LaPierre. Read the rest

Candles for book lovers

Candles that smell like a bookstore, old books, or a musty old cellar? Pal, you sure like books!

My home is filled with books, and pets. Guess which one lends more to the olfactory nature of my domicile? Frequently, especially after running the carpet deep-cleaner, I'll want to light a candle... or burn a sage Great Pyrenees in effigy.

Candle store candles, or simply walking into one of those mall candle-shops, makes me sick-to-my-stomach. Finding candles that help clear the air, rather than fill it with a chemical scent worse than hospital, is pretty tough. Bookstore is working well for me, tho I am not sure which bookstore it is supposed to be. Most of them now smell like their coffee counter.

Bookstore - Book Lovers' Soy Candle - 8oz Jar via Amazon

Image via Amazon Read the rest

US Customs and Border Protection made forging e-passports easier

One of the things that make every RFID implanted US Passport 'safe' is each document's unique cryptographic identifier. Customs and Border Protection can use this key to verify the authenticity of each passport, if they'd bother to install the software to do so.

For 12 years they have not.

Via Wired:

Passports, like any physical ID, can be altered and forged. That's partly why for the last 11 years the United States has put RFID chips in the back panel of its passports, creating so-called e-Passports. The chip stores your passport information—like name, date of birth, passport number, your photo, and even a biometric identifier—for quick, machine-readable border checks. And while e-Passports also store a cryptographic signature to prevent tampering or forgeries, it turns out that despite having over a decade to do so, US Customs and Border Protection hasn't deployed the software needed to actually verify it.

This means that since as far back as 2006, a skilled hacker could alter the data on an e-Passport chip—like the name, photo, or expiration date—without fear that signature verification would alert a border agent to the changes. That could theoretically be enough to slip into countries that allow all-electronic border checks, or even to get past a border patrol agent into the US.

...and they need a wall. Read the rest

Black Panther director Ryan Coogler pens a touching thank you to fans

Following the unprecedented success of his film Black Panther, director Ryan Coogler shared this sweet thank-you letter via the Marvel Studios Twitter account:

The letter reads:

I am struggling to find the words to express my gratitude at this moment, but I will try. Filmmaking is a team sport. And our team was made up [of] amazing people from all over the world who believed in this story. Deep down we all hoped that people would come to see a film about a fictional country on the continent of Africa, made up of a cast of people of African descent.

Never in a million years did we imagine that you all would come out this strong. It still humbles me to think that people care enough to spend their money and time watching our film. But to see people of all backgrounds wearing clothing that celebrates their heritage, taking pictures next to our posters with their friends and family, and sometimes dancing in the lobbies of theaters often moved me and my wife to tears.

For the people who bought out theaters, who posted on social about how lit the film would be, bragged about our awesome cast, picked out outfits to wear, and who stood in line in theaters all over the world, all before even seeing the film…

To the press who wrote about the film for folks who hadn’t yet seen it, and encouraged audiences to come out…

And to the young ones, who came out with their parents, with their mentors, and with their friends…

Thank you for giving our team of filmmakers the greatest gift: The opportunity to share this film, that we poured our hearts and souls into, with you.

Read the rest

The existential horror of Logan Paul

Rightfully disdained for his callous behavior but still adored by millions of fans, YouTuber Logan Paul clearly inspires some very intense emotions in those who watch his channel. In this thoughtful 19-minute video, video essayist Big Joel takes an objective look at why that is by examining Paul’s evolving YouTube persona and the troubling, damaging path it’s taken.

For another smart critical take on Logan Paul, check out this video by Nathan Zed:

Read the rest

Incredible overview of making mirrors for the world's largest telescope

The Giant Magellan Telescope is a marvel of engineering, and Dr. Patrick McCarthy explains the years-long process to make an optic mirror that costs over $20 million. Read the rest

SPLC finally adds male supremacists to hate groups list

Male supremacy has gotten a strong foothold online through men's rights activism (MRA), pickup artist movement (PUA), and the "tradwife" movement. Now SPLC has started naming the leaders on their hate watchlist. Read the rest

Watch how to make a tin can with actual tin from scratch

Cody from Cody's lab had some elemental tin and a new rolling press, so he decided to craft a tin can from actual tin. Read the rest

Animator PES crafts a taco with his flea market haul

Most of PES' videos showcase his amazingly stylish stop-motion animation skills. While his most recent upload is a departure from that, it's equally as compelling. In the video, he heads to his local flea market in Long Beach, California and shows us not only what kinds of things he fancies but also shares, in some cases, why they grabbed his attention.

We also get to see how he combines seemingly-unrelated elements to make something creative and new, which is what he does in his animated shorts (like Submarine Sandwich, Western Spaghetti and the Oscar-nominated Fresh Guacamole).

Now watch as he turns a vintage baseball glove into a crispy taco shell stuffed with crystallized "meat," shredded money "lettuce," dice(d) "tomatoes," and golf pencil "cheese." Read the rest

Watch this very good boy fearlessly escape a pack of wolves

While bopping around Italy's Abruzzo National Park, zoologist Paolo Forconi witnessed a pack of three young wolves assaulting a garden variety house pooch. While it takes a few nips from the wolves, their young jaws, according to Forconi, weren't able to do much damage. Tthe dog was able to make its escape through a small hole in a fence. Read the rest

Rancher takes feds to court over camera they placed on his property without permission

Ricardo Palacios, a 74-year old rancher, had gotten used to Customs and Border Protection officials tromping across his south Texas ranch lands without permission over the years. But finding a wireless surveillance camera set up in one of his trees? Not OK. Upon discovering the device, Palacios removed it immediately. It wasn't long after that he started receiving calls from CBP and the Texas Rangers demanding that he turn the camera over to them or face charges.

Having taken enough of their shit, instead of turning the camera over, Palacios gave the feds something else instead: a lawsuit.

According to Ars Technica, Palacios, who's been a lawyer for 50 years,  named the two agencies and a CBP agent in a lawsuit that accuses them of violating his constitutional rights, by trespassing on his land, and setting up cameras where ever they damn well please. It's an important case: CBP claims it has a right, within a 100-mile radius of the American border, to stop people (including U.S. citizens, which flies in the face of the Fourth Amendment,) search cars and personal belongings in the name of border security, without a warrant. But this doesn't allow them to go traipsing on to private property in the name of their duties without permission. They're only allowed to  do that within 25 miles of the border.

Palacios' ranch? It's 35 miles away from the edge of the U.S./Mexican border. This alone would be enough to warrant a suit against the government. But there's more:

As Palacios alleges in the civil complaint, his interactions with CBP began in April 2010 when his two sons were stopped at a checkpoint along I-35.

Read the rest

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