Co-captain of the US women's national soccer team: “I’m not going to the f*cking White House.”

Megan Rapinoe, co-captain of the United States women's national soccer team did not sing the National Anthem before the Women's World Cup game with Thailand on Tuesday. She does not expect to be invited to the White House, and if she ever is, she made it clear she doesn't intend to go:

“I’m not going to the fucking White House.” - @mPinoe

— Eight by Eight (@8by8mag) June 25, 2019

Image: Twitter

An 14-year-old's Internet-of-Things worm is bricking shitty devices by the thousands

A hacker calling themself Light Leafon who claims to be a 14-year-old is responsible for a new IoT worm called Silex that targets any Unix-like system by attempting a login with default credentials; upon gaining access, the malware enumerates all mounted disks and writes to them from /dev/random until they are filled, then it deletes the devices' firewall rules and removes its network config and triggers a restart -- this effectively bricks the device, rendering it useless until someone performs the complex dance needed to download and reinstall the device's firmware.

"They Live": action figures for our present moment

I've often said that science fiction doesn't tell you much about the future, but it sure tells you a lot about the present: the fact that we're still citing Frankenstein and the Terminator tells you that we're worried about being carried away by our technology, the fact that we're still citing The Matrix tells you that we fear that the world is being secretly run by a conspiracy (and not without cause).

A family from Angola has been stuck at Incheon International Airport in Korea for the past 6 months

On December 28, 2018 Nkuka Lulendo fled Angola with his wife and four young children. They sought refugee status in Korea, but have been stuck in terminal 1 of Incheon Airport ever since. In the video Lulendo tells the sad story of how he ended up in Korea. He was working as a taxi driver in Angola and he accidentally hit a police car. He's an ethnic minority, and he says the police imprisoned and tortured him for 10 days, and raped his wife, too.  A police officer who sympathized with him helped him escape, and so Lulendo gathered his family and left Angola as soon as they could. Now they live at the airport, sleeping on a large square couch. Lulendo says people have given them clothes and food.

The interviewer asked one of Lulendo's 9-year-old kids: "Do you want to go back to Angola or stay here in Korea?"

He said, "I’d like to go back if we weren’t in danger of dying."

Asian Boss, which produced the video, wrote: "Initially, we thought about helping the Lulendo family through crowdfunding. However, what they wanted more than money was raising awareness about their situation so they can have their asylum-application process expedited by the Korean government. If you want to help, just keep sharing this video until this story gets picked by mainstream media. The Korean government won't address this issue until there is enough media coverage on a global scale, so let's do our part."


<em>Image: YouTube</em>

Join me today at 12PM Pacific/3PM Eastern for a New York Times/Periscope livestream about my "op-ed from the future"

Yesterday, the New York Times published my "op-ed from the future," an essay entitled "I Shouldn’t Have to Publish This in The New York Times," which tried to imagine what would happen to public discourse if the Big Tech platforms were forced to use algorithms to police their users' speech in order to fight extremism, trolling, copyright infringement, harassment, and so on.

Mystery saint giving out $100 bills and encouraging notes in eastern Canadian town

It's been a crackerjack year, hasn't it? Kids are being held in concentration camps, whole species are disappearing from the face of the earth, our weather is absolutely borked and drinkable water is fast disappearing in many locales around the world. Everything is terrible!

Except for when it isn't.

From The Globe & Mail:

An anonymous benefactor who secretly placed a $100 bill and an unabashed message of positivity in a Nova Scotia park has delighted and intrigued the town’s residents.

The bill was taped to a New Glasgow, N.S., gazebo in a Ziploc bag with a note encouraging the finder to spend the money on something that brings them happiness and to remember the good in the world.

It was found by town employee Doug Miller while setting up for a funding announcement over the weekend.

As detailed in a photo on the Globe & Mail's website, the note reads: To whoever finds this $100 bill -- it is yours! I hope it will bring you joy and that you will use it for your enjoyment. Always know that there is good in the world and joy to be found. I hope you know, or will learn, that you are priceless and worth more than any paper or plastic. I hope you will always choose to be happy.

A hundred bucks is a lot of cash, to most people. To others, it's a fart in a mist. No matter how you're situated for cash, I'm sure you'll agree that it's nice to occasionally run across a news story where nothing is on fire, spreading like the plague or about to die at the hands of the military industrial complex. Image via Flickr, courtesy of Ross Dunn

Arts & Crafts: Build a canoe from a few slabs of plywood

You know what's more badass and relaxing at the same time than going on a week-long canoe trip? Going on a week-long canoe trip in a vessel you built your own damn self. What I dig the most about this video is that shows the build process, mistakes and all, from start to finish. I don't know about you, but I always feel a whole lot better knowing that mistakes can be made by an expert and the project can still come out looking like a champ.

How Metabrainz stood up to a predatory copyright lawsuit and won

I'm a volunteer on the board of The Metabrainz Foundation, the nonprofit that maintains the Metabrainz service that produces accurate metadata on music that helps listeners locate the music they love and musicians and services accurately allocate revenues from online services. Metabrainz's material is strictly Creative Commons, including the art its users include in their updates to the database.

Cop starts yelling "Gun!" during a car stop, until he realizes he's being filmed

Sometimes with a cellphone video you'll see cops behave bizarrely, abruptly shouting things like "stop resisting!" or "gun!" when it's obvious the suspect is not resisting and is either unarmed or not reaching for a weapon. The point of it is to establish, on less revealing recording devices such as bodycams and dashcams, that the officer has a reasonable fear for their lives. That fear is held to justify anything bad that might then happen to the suspect, even if it turns out to be mistaken. And so the weird yelling about guns and impossible movements becomes a ritual to that end.

Which is to say, if a cop starts shouting "gun!" during an interaction with you, that cop intends to kill you.

And if the cop is poking his gun at you sideways like a cartoon gangster? You better get lucky fast.

Independent evaluation of "aggression detection" microphones used in schools and hospitals finds them to be worse than useless

One of the griftiest corners of late-stage capitalism is the "public safety" industry, in which military contractors realize they can expand their market by peddling overpriced garbage to schools, cities, public transit systems, hospitals, etc -- which is how the "aggression detection" industry emerged, selling microphones whose "machine learning" backends are supposed to be able to detect "aggressive voices" (as well as gunshots) and alert cops or security guards.

Microsoft employees want to starve its PAC, which keeps giving money to homophobic, racist, climate-denying Republicans

Microsoft's stated values are "diversity, inclusion, and growth mindset," but the six of the top ten politicians funded by MSPAC -- which derives funding from voluntary contributions from 4,000 of Microsoft's 140,000 employees -- are far-right Republican extremists, including Mitch McConnell, who reliably vote for homophobic, climate-denying and racist policies.

It's time for a less compromising queer activism—and media

After yesterday's news about young Americans' acceptance of queer folk falling sharply, I wanted to take aim at the passivity of mainstream LGBTQ advocacy in the age of Trump. At groups who compromise with uncompromising enemies. At activists who have nothing to say when yarns are spun about the personal costs of queerness. At corporate donors' vision of heteronormatively gay-married surburban debt sponges and police-infested Pride marches. The price is right, at least for fundraisers, but the costs are becoming clear.

At The Outline, Katelyn Burns explores one specific consequence of trying to wait it out: mainstream media constantly writes about LGBTQ stuff with the presumed conservative reaction in mind, giving little corresponding consideration to their queer subjects' experience. The lack of dedicated LGBTQ media is a disaster, she writes.

What’s most frightening to me as a trans reporter is that these unprecedented attacks on trans and LGBTQ rights is coming in the middle of the complete devastation in LGBTQ media. Into, an LGBTQ-focused news site owned by Grindr, shut down in January following its report detailing anti-marriage equality comments made by its own owner late last year. The LGBTQ desks at BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post have been decimated. Even ThinkProgressZack Ford, one of the most reliable reporters on the queer news beat and who has a long track record of breaking anti-trans news, was reassigned by his employer to cover Trump in general (though ThinkProgress is maintaining its LGBT coverage with nonbinary writer Casey Quinlan). Allen also recently parted ways with her full-time employer, The Daily Beast. I can count on one hand the number of openly transgender reporters covering the administration for national-level publications — several of whom, myself included, have recently parted ways with full-time jobs on the beat.

In a recent New York Times story, for example, the reporter sourced a quote to the founder of a policy think tank that plainly doesn't exist beyond a corporate registration you can do online for a modest fee. Yet The Times insists that this registration not only justifies the use of this source to propound on trans issues, but makes it unnecessary to mention what they really are: a random crank on Twitter. Burns makes the case that the reason such shabby reporting happens in the first place, then never gets corrected or even acknowledged, is because the smiley rainbows-and-unicorns world of LGBTQ fundraising all but forbids the aggressive public activism required to hold editors' feet to the fire.

Actress Gay Gibson met a mysterious death on an ocean liner in 1947

In 1947 actress Gay Gibson disappeared from her cabin on an ocean liner off the coast of West Africa. The deck steward, James Camb, admitted to pushing her body out a porthole, but insisted she had died of natural causes and not in a sexual assault. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll review the curious case of the porthole murder, which is still raising doubts today.

We'll also explore another fraudulent utopia and puzzle over a pedestrian's victory.

Show notes

Please support us on Patreon!

Valve killing Steam Support for some Ubuntu users

A few years ago the announcement that Steam would begin supporting Linux was a big deal: it meant that anyone who preferred to rock an open-source operating system over Mac OS or Windows 10 would have instant buy-it-and-play-it access to a large catalog of game titles that would have otherwise taken a whole lot of tweaking to get up and running or wouldn't have worked for them at all. For some, at least, the party may be coming to an end.

From Engadget:

If you're a Linux gamer who prefers Ubuntu, you might want to look for another distribution in the near future. Valve is dropping official support for Ubuntu in Steam as of the operating system's upcoming 19.10 release, which will cut 32-bit x86 components. The Steam crew aims to "minimize breakage" for existing Ubuntu users, according to Valve's Pierre-Loup Griffais, but it'll shift its attention to another distribution in the future.

So, in short: no 32-bit support means no Steam support. Given that the many of the games available on Steam can only be had by buying a license, this news sucks in so many ways. That said, as noted by Engadget, at some point in the future, it could be possible to switch to a different distribution that'll allow you to undertake some, glitch-free fragging. However, for the time being, Canonical and Valve haven't made any announcements of which distribution will best serve gamers, moving forward. When that announcement will come down the pike is anyone's guess.

Image via Wikipedia

"Toy Story" sneakers: One foot gets Woody, the other Buzz

Woody and Buzz's friendship catchphrase -- "The important thing is that we stick together!" -- becomes quite literal in these new mismatched "Toy Story 4" sneakers. You get one shoe fashioned after Sheriff Woody and the other after Buzz Lightyear.

Reebok collaborated with Pixar and BAIT on this limited-edition Instapump Fury model in anticipation of the film's release. No word on when they drop or their cost.


This AR gift set has the right stuff for any NASA fan

So you've visited the Kennedy Space Center every year. You've watched "The Right Stuff" for the 95th time. There must be something to do while you're waiting to join Space Force for the next manned mission to Mars or the moon.

Here's a combo that should raise a salute from any fan of space or the American space program: The NASA AR Notebook & NASA Space Mug Bundle.

The notebook is a handy enough gift on its own, hardbound and emblazoned with the ever-popular NASA "worm" logo. But the mug is a real testament to the technology that drove us to the stars: Simply install a companion Augmented Reality app on your smartphone and point it at the bottom of the cup. Instantly, that mug becomes a space capsule, a tunnel you can peer through for an interactive astronaut's eye view of the planet Earth.

Right now, you can pick up the NASA AR Notebook & NASA Space Mug Bundle for $54.99, an 8% discount off the original price of $59.98.

Cult of the Dead Cow: the untold story of the hacktivist group that presaged everything great and terrible about the internet

Back in 1984, a lonely, weird kid calling himself Grandmaster Ratte' formed a hacker group in Lubbock, Texas. called the Cult of the Dead Cow, a name inspired by a nearby slaughterhouse. In the decades to come, cDc would become one of the dominant forces on the BBS scene and then the internet -- endlessly inventive, funny and prankish, savvy and clever, and sometimes reckless and foolish -- like punk-rock on a floppy disk.

Good deal on a padded picnic blanket

We went to the LA Zoo yesterday and had a picnic lunch near the kids' playground. It was in the grass under a shady tree. We brought along this 80" x 60" picnic blanket ( on Amazon). It folds up into a small package and comes with a handle for easy carrying. The underside is made of a tough material to resist scratching, and the top is softer and easy to wipe down. It has a thin layer of foam to provide a bit of a cushion. We've used it a bunch of times and it holds up well.

Report: UK "Ransomware consultants" Red Mosquito promise to unlock your data, but they're just paying off the criminals (and charging you a markup!)

Last month, Propublica published a blockbuster investigative report on companies that claimed they could help you get your ransomware-locked data back, but who were secretly just paying off the criminals -- one company got so good at it that ransomware criminals started to refer their victims to them.

Study: Acceptance of queer folk falls sharply among young Americans

A GLAAD study claims that the number of young Americans comfortable with LGBTQ people has fallen from 53% to 45%, the second consecutive annual drop.


Scenarios for the survey included learning a family member is LGBT, learning my doctor is LGBT, having LGBT members at my place of worship, seeing an LGBT co-worker’s wedding picture, having my child placed in a class with an LGBT teacher, seeing a same-sex couple holding hands and learning my child has a lesson on LGBT history in school.

The Index comes amidst a number of anti-LGBTQ violence and discrimination incidents. Just last year, reported hate crimes rose 17 percent, making it the third consecutive year that such crimes increased.

Here's an executive summary of the poll, but it doesn't offer much to chew on in terms of how shaded or teleological the methodology is with respect to GLAAD's activist aims.

Nonetheless, the conclusion:

While young people are identifying as LGBTQ in higher rates than ever before, there has also been an uptick in non-LGBTQ young people pushing back against acceptance. The younger generation has traditionally been thought of as a beacon of progressive values. We have taken that idea for granted and this year’s results show that the sharp and quick rise in divisive rhetoric in politics and culture is having a negative influence on younger American

Trumpism involves endless mendacity and manipulation. But these new conservatives have definite enemies and aims. They offer an inspiring message of division and disgust for the youth of today.

The liberal and Democratic mainstream, on the other hand, claims to support LGBTQ folk but remains spineless and vague. They spoke of principles as long as it yielded a political return on investment, but their voices are trailing off and their eyes are drifting to the gains made on the right, where strange trial balloons already float into the mire. Compromising with anyone is to instantly lose in the nightmare game theory of Trumptime. So the only thing that's left to do is to take the fertile ground before the alt-right does.

Better get cracking!

Fun "urban blight" popsicle stick and graffiti art project for kids

Graffiti Diplomacy is a Brooklyn-based graffiti art studio and educational outfit with a terrific Web site containing free lessons, handouts, and craft activities for beginning (and advanced) artists. Their "Urban Blight" diorama how-to, complete with popsicle stick picket fences, looks like a lot of fun to build and tag.

Graffiti Crafting # 1 - Learn How To Make A Popsicle Stick Graffiti Picket Fence

Life with chronic Lyme disease ("post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome") sucks

Karl Bode is a respected and talented tech journalist, but he labors under a tremendous burden: for nearly a decade he has struggled with "post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome" -- colloquially known as "chronic Lyme disease" -- enduring the twin struggles of a largely untreatable debilitating illness and skeptical dismissals from much of the medical establishment.

Son-of-Reflectacles: Kickstarting a new generation of anti-surveillance eyewear

Eccentric eyewear maker Scott Urban first kickstarted his "Reflectacles" frames in 2016; the frames used emedded retroreflectors to make them throw back tons of light, making them highly visible (and great for things like night cycling); subsequent iterations beefed up the IR reflectivity, which blinded many CCTV surveillance cameras (they use IR to paint low-light scenes, and their sensors can be overwhelmed if enough of that IR bounces back at them).

You can make a Turing machine inside a game of Magic: The Gathering

Magic: The Gathering is Turing complete. In a new scientific paper, researchers "present a methodology for embedding an arbitrary Turing machine into a game of Magic such that the first player is guaranteed to win the game if and only if the Turing machine halts." From Ars Technica:

Furthermore, (software engineer Alex Churchill) and his co-authors -- Stella Biderman of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Austin Herrick of the University of Pennsylvania -- have concluded that Magic might be as computationally complex as it's possible for any tabletop game to be. In other words, "This is the first result showing that there exists a real-world game [of Magic] for which determining the winning strategy is non-computable," the authors write...

A universal Turing machine is one capable of running any algorithm, while "Turing completeness" is a term "used to indicate that a system has a particular degree of complexity," said Churchill. "Any Turing-complete system is theoretically able to emulate any other." Being able to determine whether a given problem can be solved in principle is a key task in computer science. If Magic is Turing complete, then there should exist within the game a scenario where it's impossible to determine a winning strategy—equivalent to the famous "halting problem" in computer science.

One way to demonstrate that a system is Turing complete is to create a Turing machine within it, and that's just what Churchill et al. have done with their work

"It’s possible to build a Turing machine within Magic: The Gathering" (Ars Technica)

FUCT: Supreme Court strikes down block on "immoral or scandalous" trademarks

They ruled unanimously on one element and 6-3 on another, with liberals and conservatives on either side.

The justices ruled in favor of a company called "FUCT" whose trademark was earlier found to have violated the provision.

The court found that the statute can't stand because it "disfavors certain ideas."

Justices Elena Kagan, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch ruled in the majority.

Chief Justice John Roberts, alongside Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, partially dissented.

All so the first "FUCT" can sue all the other FUCTS! This ruling follows a similar one a couple of years ago, allowing an Asian band named "The Slants" to register their trademark after the USPTO told them to get fuct.

America's super-rich write to Democratic presidential hopefuls, demanding a wealth tax

18 of the richest people in America have sent a letter to all the candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, demanding that their election platform include a annual wealth tax on the largest American fortunes, something advocated by economist Thomas Piketty in his blockbuster book Capital in the 21st Century and subsequently integrated into Elizabeth Warren's campaign platform (with Piketty's endorsement).

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