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Interview: Dr. Karl E H Seigfried talks Ásatrú, Heathenry and beards

A few weeks back, we pushed out a post about the fact that Heathens serving in the U.S. Army are now allowed to sport a beard as part of their faith. In the story, I mentioned that a group that stands for heathens serving in the military stated that the growing of a beard wasn’t a tenet of Heathenry. Given that Ásatrú, Heathenry and Paganism have been used to describe a wide number of belief systems and religions, I wasn’t sure if making a basket statement like this was factually correct. Fortunately, I know someone who does.

Dr. Karl E.H. Seigfried holds degrees in literature and music from University of California at San Diego, University of Wisconsin at Madison, and University of Texas at Austin. He studied literature and art history at Loyola University Chicago, Rome Center, in Italy and took Icelandic language courses through University of Iceland's distance learning program. Dr. Seigfried currently works at the Illinois Institute of Technology as an Adjunct Professor in Humanities and as a Pagan Chaplain. He’s Goði (priest) of Thor’s Oak Kindred—a Chicago-based organization dedicated to the practice of the Ásatrú faith and a member of the Troth Clergy Program. Previously, Dr. Seigfried taught Norse mythology and religion at Loyola University Chicago, Carthage College, and the Newberry Library Seminars Program.

Long story short, the good doctor knows everything about Heathenry that I don’t.

While I wanted, primarily, to ask him if the wearing of a beard as part of Heathenry was bonafide bunk, I felt the opportunity to follow up with a few questions about an often misunderstood religion was too good to pass up. Read the rest

GDPR: Don't forget to bring a towel!

May 25 is Towel Day, when fans of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy jokingly adorn a towel and praise the household item as if it prepares the owner for any sticky situation. Author Douglas Adams was a master of these tongue-in-cheek references to our modern existence, helping the reader (and listener) feel as if they might one day walk across their livingroom and into a silly, star-spanning adventure.

Facebook moderation guidelines leaked

"White supremacy" is forbidden on Facebook, but "white nationalism" is OK. They know it's bullshit, elsewhere talking of "overlaps with white nationalism/separatism," but it's what they've got. Motherboard got the docs.

Facebook has increasingly dealt head on with hate speech in recent months, sometimes with mixed results. In December, Facebook admitted to Pro Publica the social network had made mistakes on nearly half of a sample of potentially offensive posts. This month, Facebook accidentally launched a new feature early that would let users flag content for potentially containing hate speech.

In April, Facebook released a selection of rules for when it takes down content, including hate speech. VP of Global Product Management Monika Bickert told reporters that “There’s been a lot of research about how when institutions put their policies out there, people change their behavior, and that’s a good thing.” Facebook did release a sketch of its moderation policies in April, but the material obtained by Motherboard is more granular.

Read the rest

Facebook is worth much less to its users than search and email, but it keeps a larger share of the value

Economists Erik Brynjolfsson, Felix Eggers and Avinash Gannamaneni have published an NBER paper (Sci-Hub mirror) detailing an experiment where they offered Americans varying sums to give up Facebook, and then used a less-rigorous means to estimate much much Americans valued other kinds of online services: maps, webmail, search, etc. Read the rest

Fishmonger buys 70-pound octopus just to set it free

This is Fred. Fred is free again.

They may not be from space, but octopuses are still incredible, intelligent creatures. One California fishmonger in Morro Bay certainly thinks so.

Earlier this month, Giovanni "Gio" DeGarimore, owner of Giovanni's Fish Market, bought a 70-pound octopus -- who has been named "Fred" -- for "a couple hundred dollars" just to release it back into the wild. And he says he'd do it again.

The San Luis Obispo Tribune reports:

DeGarimore said he didn't intend for his action to get as much fanfare as it has, but said he would be happy "if my little contribution can make a bigger difference in the world."

That contribution includes no longer selling any octopus-related products on his website, which serves customers across the country, he said.

"It'll hit me in the pocket, but I'd rather stand for something," he said.

(SFGate)

image via Giovanni's Fish Market Facebook page

Thanks, Laura! Read the rest

Amazon home assistant recorded and sent private conversation to third party, says Portland woman

Why do people have these infernal contraptions in their homes?

Every room in her family home was wired with the Amazon devices to control her home's heat, lights and security system.

But Danielle said two weeks ago their love for Alexa changed with an alarming phone call. "The person on the other line said, 'unplug your Alexa devices right now,'" she said. "'You're being hacked.'"

That person was one of her husband's employees, calling from Seattle.

"We unplugged all of them and he proceeded to tell us that he had received audio files of recordings from inside our house," she said. "At first, my husband was, like, 'no you didn't!' And the (recipient of the message) said 'You sat there talking about hardwood floors.' And we said, 'oh gosh, you really did hear us.'"

Amazon support reportedly admitted that it happened, but could or would not tell her how. "Hacked" seems like hyperbole to me, but the way voice assistants are designed means--much like Facebook--that it's intentionally easy to get it watching you but hard to know what it's up to.

"Dark patterns" are those where a user interface is explicitly designed to fool the user into doing something they don't want. There should be a word for when poor UI design allows reasonable user behavior to result in nasty outcomes that the designer should have anticipated. Voice assistants that don't look for obvious signs they're not actually being talked to, for example. Or whatever awful arse made it so CTRL-Q and CTRL-W were right next to each other. Read the rest

A funk cover of "Sweet Child O' Mine"

Here's a fab funk cover of Guns N' Roses' 1988 hit single "Sweet Child O' Mine" featuring the powerful vocals of Mario Jose.

Now, here's the backstory of the band behind the cover: In 2017, Patreon's founder and CEO Jack Conte started a band (no, not that one) with his buddy-since-high-school Ryan Lerman, a funk band called Scary Pockets.

Conte shares how the band formed:

Ryan and I started brainstorming about ways we could make music together, despite our geographical separation and my focus on Patreon. Then we hit an idea: what if I flew down to LA once per month, spent a single day in the studio with Ryan and a few musician buddies, and recorded four songs. We wouldn't do any prep work -- no preconceived arrangements, no pre-production, no frills. We would just walk into the studio and not even know what key we were going to record in. Sometimes we wouldn't even have a song picked out. Let's just spend a single day together in the studio, arrange and record four songs together, have a great time playing funk with our friends, and video the whole thing. And that was it!! We decided to give it a shot, and we had our first session in February of 2017. Scary Pockets was off the ground.

The music was full of imperfections -- wrong notes, some gritty buzz and hissing from old instruments, a ton of drum bleed in the vocal mics -- but we were having a blast together, and it was a dream come true to be playing music together again.

Read the rest

The emerging split in modern trustbusting: Alexander Hamilton's Fully Automated Luxury Communism vs Thomas Jefferson's Redecentralization

From the late 1970s on, the Chicago School economists worked with the likes of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Augusto Pinochet and Brian Mulroney to dismantle antitrust enforcement, declaring that the only time government should intervene is when monopolists conspired to raise prices -- everything else was fair game. Read the rest

Efail: can email be saved?

The revelation that encrypted email is vulnerable to a variety of devastating attacks (collectively known as "Efail") has set off a round of soul-searching by internet security researchers and other technical people -- can we save email? Read the rest

Facebook support groups packed with predatory marketers

Looking to Facebook for help with addiction? Take care: the social network is full of predators, and they know where to find vulnerable people. They're sleazy marketers, brokering questionable self-help and inpatient treatment options.

A stranger named Garrett Hall sent Couch a Facebook message. “Hey Lauri [sic], I saw your name on the Affected By Addiction support group, and I had this weird/strong impulse to just reach out,” Hall wrote to Couch. “[A]re you doing ok?” ...

Couch soon got a call from Meghan Calvert, a paid marketer for a treatment center called Pillars Recovery. It’s owned by Darren Orloff, who is part of Affected by Addiction’s volunteer leadership team. Couch, who has a background in sales, knew a sales pitch when she heard it. She told Calvert off for taking advantage of desperate people. ... After the call, Couch was surprised to find that she could not log back in to Affected by Addiction. In fact, she came to realize, she’d been banned.

Specific addiction support groups are the tip of the predatory marketing iceberg, but Affected by Addiction's the one Zuckerberg personally promoted on his own page.

Cat Ferguson:

Facebook, by making desperation so easily searchable, has exacerbated the worst qualities the treatment industry. A word-of-mouth industry with a constant supply of vulnerable and naive targets who feel stigmatized and alone is a scammer’s paradise.

Read the rest

It's laughably simple to buy thousands of cheap, plausible Facebook identities

Twitter draws a lot of fire for making it easy for anyone to set up an anonymous account or a bot; the argument against this says that making it easy to be anonymous also makes it easy to be shady. Read the rest

Bay Area nurses protest, demanding removal of Mark Zuckerberg's name from their hospital

Nurses picketed The Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital And Trauma Center (AKA "Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital") and covered up Zuckerberg's name on the hospital sign, citing concerns that patients would not trust a hospital that was associated with someone with such a long rap-sheet for privacy violations. Read the rest

Zuck tells Parliament they'll have to arrest him if they want him to testify

Earlier this month, Parliament sternly warned Mark Zuckerberg that if they continued to ignore their polite requests for him to testify, they'd issue a "summons" that could result in his being dragged to Westminster in chains the next time he set foot in the UK. Read the rest

Joshua Schulte named as suspect in 'Vault 7' leak of CIA tools to Wikileaks, but charged instead over child porn

Federal investigators believe a man who once worked for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency is responsible for last year's massive leak of Top Secret CIA hacking tools, court documents reveal. Read the rest

Artist summons supernatural animals in these gorgeous images

Polish artist Dawid Planeta created his "mini people in the jungle" series to include gentle gargantuan animals which appear before silhouetted humans. Read the rest

Judge to Facebook: stop deliberately misinterpreting my privacy rulings

In a new ruling, US District Judge James Donato included extraordinary recriminations directly against Facebook and its lawyers, whom he upbraided for deliberately misinterpreting his earlier rulings about who can sue Facebook over privacy violations and what kinds of damages they can seek. Read the rest

Archie McPhee's Rubber Chicken Museum opens in Seattle

They've been building it up for weeks...

Have you heard? Just 5 days till our RUBBER CHICKEN MUSEUM GRAND OPENING! I heard there might be cake!?! 🍰🐔You don’t wanna miss out on cake do you?

A post shared by Archie McPhee (@archiemcphee) on May 6, 2018 at 4:20pm PDT

Teasing us with build photos of the world's largest rubber chicken...

Adding some… ahem… chicken wire. #rcmuseum

A post shared by Archie McPhee (@archiemcphee) on Apr 23, 2018 at 10:24am PDT

The World’s Largest Rubber Chicken is starting to fill out! (Next will be trimming it down.) #rcmuseum

A post shared by Archie McPhee (@archiemcphee) on Apr 26, 2018 at 9:53am PDT

We don’t want to spoil the unveiling of the World’s Largest Rubber Chicken (happening at the grand opening of the Rubber Chicken Museum at our Seattle store this Friday (you should come))! But here are some pics to whet your appetite. #rcmuseum

A post shared by Archie McPhee (@archiemcphee) on May 9, 2018 at 9:54am PDT

Now, finally, the folks at Archie McPhee have opened the world's first Rubber Chicken Museum at their retail store in Seattle's Wallingford district! The grand opening ceremony for this fowl museum began on Friday at 3 PM, with much fanfare, clucking, and squawking.

The opening of the new @archiemcphee Rubber Chicken Museum is close at hand.

A post shared by Mark Pahlow (@mcpheeceo) on May 11, 2018 at 2:45pm PDT

The museum's curator, the High Priestess of the Rubber Chicken Shana Iverson, used giant novelty scissors for the ribbon cutting, which was broadcast on Facebook Live. Read the rest

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