Strong Female Protagonist, Book Two: the hard philosophical questions of superheroism and compassion

It's been nearly four years since the first crowdfunded collection of Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag's webcomic Strong Female Protagonist was published; the second volume, published this week, traces not just the evolution of its protagonist, the superhero Alison "Mega Girl" Green, but of its creators, who have found new and amazing depths to plumb and heights to soar to.

Cop tases man for not being able to put his legs straight out and cross them at the same time

A police officer in Lancaster, Pennsylvania told a man to put his legs "straight out." The officer's partner told him to "put your legs straight out and cross them now." When the poor man tried his best to comply with the confusing command, the officer shot him with a taser, sending the man into extreme misery. It doesn't seem fair, does it?

Read the rest

University students raise £1500 to send much loved janitor on a much needed vacation

This isn't a long story, but damn, it's a great one: students at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom recently came together to celebrate one of the best things about where they go to school: a Janitor named Herman Gordon. Running into Gordon on campus, by all reports, is a bright, shining high point in the day of many of the University's students. According to one individual, quoted by the BBC, Gordon "...is the epitome of happiness."

Considering the fact that Gordon spends his days cleaning up after the thousands of folks that roam the university on a daily basis, his great attitude is just that much more amazing. My father was a janitor and he was a miserable prick. Anyway, one of the University of Bristol's students thought that it was time that those that know and appreciate what the cleaner brings to their lives on a daily basis showed their appreciation to him. So, a fundraising campaign to send Gordon and his wife on a vacation to visit family in Jamaica was launched. The campaign managed to raise £1500 – more than enough to send the couple on their way.

From The Daily Mail:

According to an admin from the Bristruths Facebook page - an anonymous 'truth' page for Bristol University - the idea for Mr Gordon's trip came from a Facebook post.

'It all started with this post on the 19th May,' they said.

The initial post called Mr Gordon 'the jolliest man I have ever met' and said 'if you wanna reason to smile, go talk to him for a min or two'.

Read the rest

CBS News catches ICE Spokesman being intimidated by Homeland Security agents on video

James Schwab worked as federal employee for 17 years, serving in the military, at the Department of Defense and NASA. His last gig with the government was as a spokesperson for ICE under President Obama and President Trump. After close to 20 years in the trenches, many career government employees would have a thousand-yard stare fixed squarely on their retirement. Schwab? Not so much: he resigned from ICE three months ago, rather than be complicit in spreading significant levels of disinformation to the American people. Put an emphasis on significant: Schwab, like many PR pros, was comfortable with a certain amount of bullshit flowing out from between his lips. But as he outlines in this video, there are limits.

Three months after he resigned, two Department of Homeland Security investigators showed up at his front door, looking to question him, allegedly, to intimidate him into keeping quiet about what he was privy to while working for ICE. It just so happened that a CBS This Morning news crew was at Schwab's home, interviewing him when the investigators knocked on his front door.

The Investigators told CBS' Jamie Yuccas and a surprised sounding Schwab that they were there to investigate the leaking of information to the Mayor of Oakland about an ICE operation that took place earlier this year.

Not greasy at all. Nope. Read the rest

The time I interviewed Harlan Ellison about his lawsuit against a fan who posted his stories to Usenet

In 2001 I wrote an article for The Industry Standard about the Harlan Ellison's one man war against people uploading his short stories to Usenet. I interviewed him on the phone for the piece and the first thing he told me was, "I can't talk to you. I'm very busy. I've got a deadline." He then launched into a 30-minute rant about everything wrong with the world (example: "You just look around and say, 'Mother of God, the gene pool is just polluted and we really ought to turn it over to the cockroaches if we can't do any better than this!'") Here's the article.

Clowns. Morons. Thieves. Thugs. Little pirates. Self-indulgent adolescents. That's what Harlan Ellison calls people who post his fiction on the Net without his permission.

Such talk has made Ellison as legendary for his acts of vengeance as for his literary work. Sure, he's written 74 books and classic episodes of Star Trek and Outer Limits. But an angry Ellison also once mailed a dead gopher to a book editor. On another occasion, he flew from Los Angeles to New York to tear apart an editor's office. Then there's the time he brought a gun to a meeting. (He swears it wasn't loaded.)

But Stephen Robertson probably didn't know any of that, or surely he would've been more careful. Last April, Robertson, a 40-year-old motel manager in Red Bluff, Calif., was caught uploading several of Ellison's short stories to a newsgroup where hundreds of free - and unauthorized - digitized books and stories are posted for the taking. Read the rest

5 dead, many injured in mass shooting at Annapolis newsroom (Updated)

5 are reportedly dead and at least 20 more injured after a gunman opened fire at the Capital-Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, this afternoon. A suspect is in custody, but police have yet to release any details and reports from the scene offer no clues as to motive or the shooter's identity.

Update: The shooter was named as Jarrod Ramos. From a Twitter feed widely identifed as his, it seems apparent Ramos had long nursed a grudge against the newspaper following a 2012 lawsuit he'd filed and lost over a story it published.

From The Baltimore Sun, the Capital-Gazette's parent newspaper:

Phil Davis, a Capital Gazette crime reporter who was in the building at the time of the shooting, said multiple people were shot, as others — himself included — hid under their desks. He said there was a lone male gunman.

“Gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees. Can’t say much more and don’t want to declare anyone dead, but it’s bad,” Davis wrote on Twitter as he waited to be interviewed by police.

“There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload.”

In a subsequent interview, Davis said it “was like a war zone” inside the newspaper’s offices — a situation that would be “hard to describe for a while.”

Just yesterday, far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos called for vigilantes to "gun down" journalists "on sight"; two days ago, President Donald Trump described American media as "the enemy of the American people." Read the rest

Meet the people who went to the US Copyright Office to demand your right to repair, remix and preserve!

Every three years, the US Copyright Office undertakes an odd ritual: they allow members of the public to come before their officials and ask for the right to use their own property in ways that have nothing to do with copyright law.

It's a strange-but-true feature of American life. Blame Congress. When they enacted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1998, they included Section 1201, a rule that bans people from tampering with copyright controls on their devices. That means that manufacturers can use copyright controls to stop you from doing legitimate things, like taking your phone to an independent service depot; or modifying your computer so that you can save videos to use in remixes or to preserve old games. If doing these legal things requires that you first disable or remove a copyright control system, they can become illegal, even when you're using your own property in the privacy of your own home.

But every three years, the American people may go before the Copyright Office and ask for the right to do otherwise legal things with their own property, while lawyers from multinational corporations argue that this should not happen.

The latest round of these hearings took place in April, and of course, EFF was there, with some really cool petitions (as dramatized by the science fiction writers Mur Lafferty, John Scalzi, and Cory Doctorow [ahem]), along with many of our friends and allies, all making their own pleas for sanity in copyright law.

We commemorated the occasion with a collection of short video conversations between me and our pals. Read the rest

The continuing saga of Buck Rogers and the Copyright Trolls

Back in October 2015 we brought you the story of the Buck Rogers Copyright Trolls, two lawyers who were fighting to keep Buck Rogers from entering the public domain using the discredited Sherlock Holmes system of licensing. Two and a half years later, Louise Geer and Dan Herman are still at it, using every trick in the book to keep a beloved tale out of the public domain, where it firmly belongs. Along the way the pair have stiffed multiple law firms, and currently are abusing a Bankruptcy Court in Pennsylvania in a Hail Mary effort to...well, it’s not exactly clear what they’re trying to do.

McMansion Hell's tour through Texas's Most Terrible fake castles

On the first anniversary of its triumph over Zillow's censorious attempt at copyfraud, McMansion Hell is back and better than ever. Read the rest

RIP, Harlan Ellison

Harlan Ellison, essayist, editor and short story writer, has died in his sleep at the age of 84. Read the rest

Self-hacking Internet of Shit camera automatically sends randos the feed from inside your house

Last week, I wrote about Shenzhen Gwelltimes Technology Co's ubiquitous "home security" cameras that can be hacked with ease by voyeurs and criminals, seemingly the last word in dangerously lax security -- but here comes scrappy underdog Swann Security, with a hold-my-beer turning point in shitty technology designs: a self-hacking camera that nonconsensually sends the video feed from inside your home to strangers who didn't even try to hack you. Read the rest

AT&T stands to make $800,000,000 more by sneakily tripling a bullshit "administrative fee"

When the DoJ greenlit the merger of AT&T and Time-Warner, they blessed a union that would see one of technology's most notorious monopolists get even bigger, with the presumption that scaling up to unimaginable size would curb a terrible company's worst abuses. Read the rest

We need 46 more Congressional votes to force a vote on restoring Net Neutrality

The Discharge Petition that cleared the Senate in May is struggling in the House (as we knew it would). Read the rest

Hugh Howey's Machine Learning: New and Collected Stories - $2 ebook

Author Hugh Howey is a favorite with many of the Boing Boing staff. We first fell in love with his Wool series of stories, which won Kindle Book Review's 2012 Indie Book of the Year Award and is being developed as a movie by Ridley Scott. Today, Amazon is selling Howey's collection of stories in a volume called Machine Learning for just $2 in the Kindle edition. Even better, if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for free. Read the rest

Mattel finally made a "tech Barbie" that isn't terrible!

Ever since 1992's Math class is tough/let's go shopping scandal, Mattel has been trying to figure out how to make a more progressive Barbie, something to bring back the edgy glory-days of 1982's teen pregnancy Barbie. Read the rest

In new video, Schwarzenegger mocks Trump about saving coal: "What's next...Blockbuster?"

Arnold Schwarzenegger is at it again with a new Trump bobblehead video, this time schooling Trump on his attempts to bring back the coal industry.

"As a businessman, you have to admit that it absolutely makes no sense to go through all this effort to keep a failing business afloat," he says.

"You’re only supposed to go back in time to protect future generations. But your administration attempts to go back in time to rescue the coal industry, which is actually a threat to future generations,” Schwarzenegger says. "What are you going to bring back next? Floppy disks? Fax machines? Beanie Babies? Beepers? Or Blockbuster? Think about it. What if you tried to save Blockbuster?”

Schwarzenegger says we should secure new jobs for coal miners in safer industries. "It's time to start looking at the future instead of the past." Read the rest

The internet, 2008-2018: what's changed?

In 2008, Telstra Chief Scientist Geoff Huston wrote an informative and important retrospective on the shifts in internet technology since 1998; now, ten years later, he's written another one, tracing the remarkable shifts (and weirdly unbudgeable technological icebergs) in the past decade's worth of internet changes, advances and retreats. Read the rest

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