Signs that China's real-estate bubble will burst and take the economy with it

China's real-estate bubble is the largest in human history, and despite years of warning signs, it has grown and grown, spilling over into the rest of the world. Read the rest

AFL-CIO open letter to game devs: things won't get better until you unionize

In the wake of Blizzard/Activision's announcement of mass layoffs following record profits, Liz Shuler of the AFL-CIO has published an open letter on Kotaku addressed to workers in the notoriously abusive video game industry, calling on them to unionize as the only path to a fair deal. Read the rest

Amazon's 2018 profits: $11.2 billion; Amazon's 2018 IRS bill: negative $129 million

Amazon doubled its profits in 2018, to $11.2 billion; the company will receive a $129 million tax rebate for the year. Read the rest

Wyoming GOP Senator explains death-penalty vote by saying that being executed was good enough for Jesus, so it's good enough for criminals

A bill to repeal Wyoming's death penalty law has failed in the state senate, thanks, in part, to the vote of Sen. Lynn Hutchings [R-Cheyenne, contact details], who said, "The greatest man who ever lived died via the death penalty for you and me. I’m grateful to him for our future hope because of this. Governments were instituted to execute justice. If it wasn’t for Jesus dying via the death penalty, we would all have no hope." Read the rest

Despite public pledges, leading scientific journals still allow statistical misconduct and refuse to correct it

A leading form of statistical malpractice in scientific studies is to retroactively comb through the data for "interesting" patterns; while such patterns may provide useful leads for future investigations, simply cherry-picking data that looks significant out of a study that has otherwise failed to prove out the researcher's initial hypothesis can generate false -- but plausible-seeming -- conclusions. Read the rest

To do on Sunday in NYC: launch party for the Rats of New York's new album

NYC punk band The New York Rats is launching their new album on Sunday: it's a heavy vinyl LP with amazing sleeve art by Andrea Sicco; the album itself is Ramones-y, Husker-Du-ish uptempo punk that I've had on heavy rotation all week: it's 7:30PM on at Our Wicked Lady, 153 Morgan Ave, Brooklyn. Read the rest

Yacht dealers rely on Instagram "yacht influencers" to flip their wares

Alex Jimenez grew up poor in Puerto Rico, and is obsessed with yachts; by being one of the first people on Instagram to take a lot of pictures at yacht shows, he has become a sought-after "yacht influencer" who gets flown around the world to take photos of yachts that are going up for sale or whose owners are looking for renters. Read the rest

An "e-ink typewriter" that can only do one thing

Lucian's SPUDwriter (Single Purpose User Device) was designed to help him focus on creative writing after a long day of staring at a screen in his engineering job: it uses an e-ink screen and a keyboard, and only outputs via SD card or thermal printer.

As a person who does all of their engineering work on or adjacent to a computer, the idea of coming home and spending even MORE time on the computer for creative writing isn’t super appealing. So I made an e-paper typewriter – no browser, no games, just you and your word count. It has a character LCD at the bottom for the current line you’re typing, to make up for how slow E-paper updates, and when you’re finished you can save your file to an SD card or print it all out with the internal thermal receipt printer for redline editing. I call it the SPUDwrite (Single Purpose User Device), hopefully the first of a couple of SPUDs. It’s built on MBED and the STM32F401 Cortex M4.

The SPUDwrite (Single Purpose User Device) for creating writing made with E-paper, MBED, and STM32F401 Cortex M4 [Adafruit]

(Thanks, PT!)

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Facebook's internal security goons track ex-employees and critics using Facebook's apps

If you're a disgruntled ex-Facebooker or someone who "made threatening statements" against the company, there's a chance its internal security force is tracking your location and activities, using Facebook's apps and other tracking tools. Read the rest

The Internet of Dongs remains a security dumpster-fire -- UPDATED

The Internet of Dongs is Brad Haines's term for the world of internet-connected, "teledildonic" sex toys, and Haines, along with Sarah Jamie Lewis, have exhaustively documented all the ways in which internet-connected sex toys can screw you, from leaking private data to physically attacking your junk. Read the rest

India's e-waste recycling "markets" are toxic nightmares filled with child laborers

Millions of tons of e-waste -- much of it from rich countries like Australia -- are recycled in India, in "markets" with terrible, dangerous working conditions and equally awful environmental controls. Read the rest

Who can forget those scenes in Count Zero where they all stand around eating soup?

Back in the 1980s, the giant German sf publisher Heyne tried out an experimental partnership with a soup company Maggi (they're still around), and it was bonkers. Read the rest

Bossfight: Allstate Insurance enters the Right to Repair fight, loans its lobbyists to fight Apple

The Right to Repair movement got state legislatures to consider more than a dozen Right to Repair bills last year, and have made great strides in the EU and elsewhere, but for every two steps forward they manage, they're forced a step or two back by giant corporate lobbyists, led by Apple, who want to ensure that third parties can't repair products, and that a manufacturer's decision it's time to retire a product from the market won't be challenged by independent repair depots. Read the rest

Installing a root certificate should be MUCH scarier

The news that Facebook had spent years paying teens to install a surveillance kit called "Facebook Research" had a key detail: as part of the program, Facebook had its users install a new "root certificate." Read the rest

A gorgeous, haunting story of technologically mediated love

After years of outstanding work as a cyberlawyer and science fiction/policy wonk, Kevin Bankston ( Read the rest

Ex-NSA whistleblower says she and other US ex-spooks targeted Americans on behalf of UAE

Lori Stroud is an ex-NSA spy who also contracted with the NSA through Booz Allen, who says that after she left the NSA, she was recruited to work on Project Raven, a secret, offensive surveillance and digital attack squad working for the autocratic United Arab Emirates regime alongside other ex-US intelligence operatives, working with the knowledge and approval of the NSA. Read the rest

LA Times demands that reporters sign away rights to books, movies and other works they create while working at the paper

The LA Times Guild has been negotiating a new contract with the newspaper, but has hit a wall thanks to an unprecedented demand from the paper's owners: they want writers to sign away the rights to nonfiction books, novels, movies and other works they create separate from their reporting for the paper. The newspaper is also demanding the right to use reporters "byline, biography and likeness" to market these works. Read the rest

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