Send Pics: ripping, brutal, amazing novel about teens, sextortion, revenge and justice

Over the past decade or so, Lauren McLaughin (previously) has written a handful of outstanding YA novels, each dealing with difficult issues of gender, personal autonomy and the casual cruelty of teens, starting with Cycler (and its sequel, Re-Cycler) (a teenaged girl who turned into a boy for four days every month); Scored (a class-conscious surveillance dystopia); The Free (a desperate novel about a teen car-thief in juvie) and now, her best book yet: Send Pics, a gripping thriller about sextortion, high school, revenge and justice.

Abolish Silicon Valley: memoir of a driven startup founder who became an anti-capitalist activist

Wendy Liu grew up deeply enmeshed in technology, writing code for free/open source projects and devouring books by tech luminaries extolling the virtues of running tech startups; after turning down a job offer from Google, Liu helped found an ad-tech company and moved from Montreal to New York City to take her startup to an incubator. As she worked herself into exhaustion to build her product, she had a conversion experience, realizing that she was devoting her life to using tech to extract wealth and agency from others, rather than empowering them. This kicked off a journey that Liu documents in her new book, Abolish Silicon Valley: How to Liberate Technology from Capitalism, a memoir manifesto that's not just charming -- it's inspiring.

Snowden's Box: the incredible, illuminating story of the journey of Snowden's hard drive

Dale Maharidge is a journalist and J-school professor who is dear old friends with the muckracking, outstanding political documentarian Laura Poitras. Jessica Bruder (previously) is a a writer and J-school prof who's best friends with Maharidge. When Laura Poitras was contacted by an NSA whistleblower who wanted to send her the leak of the century, she asked Maharidge for help finding a safe address for a postal delivery, and Maharidge gave her Bruder's Brooklyn apartment address. A few weeks later, Bruder came home from a work-trip to discover a box on her doormat with the return address of "B. Manning, 94-1054 Eleu St, Waipau, HI 96797." In it was a hard-drive. The story of what happened next is documented in a beautifully written, gripping new book: Snowden's Box: Trust in the Age of Surveillance.

88 Names: Matt Ruff's MMORPG heist novel is "Snow Crash meets the King and I"

Matt Ruff is one of science fiction and fantasy's most consistently brilliant and innovative authors, whose recent work includes The Mirage (an incredible alternate history in which the Global War on Terror is kicked off when Christian crusaders from the blighted, tribal USA fly a plane into the United States of Arabia's Twin Towers in Dubai, giving the hawkish CIA chief Osama bin Laden the chance to launch the all-out war he's been champing for), and Lovecraft Country (an anti-racist reimagining of Cthulhu set in Jim Crow America where the real horror is white supremacy -- now being adapted for TV by Jordan Peele). In his new novel, 88 Names, Ruff adds to the canon of MMORPG heist novels (Charlie Stross's Rule 34, Neal Stephenson's Reamde, and my For the Win, to name three) with a unique take that he dubbed "Snow Crash meets The King and I."

Drugs Without the Hot Air: the best book I've ever read on drugs and drug policy, in an expanded new edition

I first read "Drugs Without the Hot Air," David Nutt's astoundingly good book about drug policy back in 2012; in the eight years since, hardly a month has gone by without my thinking about it. Now, there's a new, updated edition, extensively revised, and it's an absolute must-read.

Upright Women Wanted: be gay, do crimes, circulate books

Sarah Gailey is one of science fiction's great new talents and their 2019 debut novel Magic for Liars was incredibly strong; now they're back with Upright Women Wanted, a feminist, genderqueer science fiction western novel about gun-toting roving librarians who are secretly the heart of an antifascist resistance. Read the rest

An update from Chelsea Manning's support team on her ongoing incarceration

[[Chelsea Manning's support team sends us this update on Chelsea Manning and her courageous fight against Grand Juries, which has seen her imprisoned for months, effectively in solitary, a situation that the UN Rapporteur on Torture has deemed to be a form of torture. Our hearts are with Chelsea. -Cory]]

We wanted to let everyone know about the new website that just went up at ReleaseChelsea.com, where people can learn more about Chelsea Manning's current situation. Read the rest

Remembering the Awhatukee House of the Future, a "shining home of dreams" that became a $3 tourist trap

In 1979, construction concluded on the Awhatukee House of the Future, a $1.2m model home in the new Phoenix suburb of Ahwatukee Village, co-built with input from Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin Associated Architects and equipped with 10 networked Motorola processors that retailed for $30,000. Read the rest

Pranking French Stewart with dolls, which he is afraid of

Burbank librarian Sarah McKinley Oakes (previously) also nannies for a six year old whose parents are French Stewart -- from Third Rock from the Sun -- and the actor Vanessa Claire Smith. Smith and Oakes have a friendly, normal relationship, but when it comes to French Stewart, things are awesomely weird. Read the rest

I'm the Author Guest of Honor at Baycon 2020, May 22-25!

Baycon is a large, regional science fiction convention that's been serving the Bay Area for 38 years; I attended several times when I lived in San Francisco and this year I was tickled to be invited to attend as Author Guest of Honor. The event is May 22-25 (Memorial Day Weekend) at the San Mateo Airport San Francisco Marriott (at Hwy 92 & 101 in San Mateo, CA). The convention is one of the best regional cons I've ever attended, with an outstanding mix of fannish activities (boffer swords! flint-knapping! multiple warring Klingon clades!), literary panels, and panels on tech, politics and other subjects salient to the Bay Area. I'm so pleased to be invited and I'm looking forward to seeing you there! Read the rest

The Catholic Church broke its promise to publish a list of "credibly accused" abuser priests, so Propublica did it for them

In 2019 the Pennsylvania Attorney General published a 900-page grand jury report on sexual predators in the Catholic Church and the coverups the church and its official had undertaken; at the time, the church promised to end the coverup and engage in truth and reconciliation with the parishoners who'd been preyed upon by clergy. Read the rest

Ajit Pai promised that killing net neutrality would spur network investment, but instead Comcast cut spending by 10.5%

When Trump FCC Chairman Ajit Pai used fraud and skullduggery to kill net neutrality, he promised that clearing away the allegedly burdensome regulation of delivering the data your customers request would finally spur investment in America's worst-of-bread, ancient network infrastructure. Read the rest

The "ops lessons we all learn the hard way"

Network administration prof and infrastructure security architect Jan Schaumann has compiled a list of 88 "ops lessons we all learn the hard way" (e.g.: "Any sufficiently successful product launch is indistinguishable from a DDoS; any sufficiently advanced user indistinguishable from an attacker.") Read the rest

After ransomware took Baltimore hostage, Maryland introduces legislation that bans disclosing the bugs ransomware exploits

Last spring, a Baltimore underwent a grinding, long-term government shutdown after the city's systems were hijacked by ransomware. This was exacerbated by massive administrative incompetence: the city had not allocated funds for improved security, training or cyberinsurance, despite having had its emergency services network taken over by ransomware the previous hear, and five city CIOs had departed in the previous four years either through firings or forced resignations. Read the rest

What happens when you steadily ramp up the speed at which you listen to podcasts

Human speech averages 150 words/minute, but human thoughts run more like 400 words per minute. Steve Rousseau decided to try "podfasting" (listening to podcasts at faster-than-normal speed) at progressively higher speeds to see whether he could consume more of the internet-mattress-subsidized high-quality audio bubble as he could before that bubble burst. Read the rest

RIP, Jason Polan, who tried to draw every single person in New York City

12 years ago, I covered the launch of artist Jason Polan's project to sketch every single person in New York City (he'd previously sketched every work of art in the MOMA). Read the rest

"The Art of Computer Designing": stark, beautiful black-and-white images from 1993

Osamu Sato is a talented polymath artist from Japan, known for his psychedelic video game scores and his pioneering work on computer graphics. Read the rest

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