My guest-appearance on Hello From the Magic Tavern

I'm a huge fan of the fantastically rude improv/current affairs/high fantasy podcast Hello From the Magic Tavern, I've enjoyed it ever since I binge-listened to the first season halfway through. Read the rest

Thinking of the history of life on Earth in terms of "energy epochs"

Olivia P. Judson's paper in Nature, The energy expansions of evolution, presents a novel, beautifully written and presented frame for looking at the history of life on Earth: as a series of five epochs in which energy became more abundant and available to lifeforms, allowing them to scale up in complexity and fecundity: geochemical energy, sunlight, oxygen, flesh and fire. Read the rest

Aviation is hell because airline exec pay is solely based on quarterly profits

There was a time when airline execs were paid based on a mix of on-time arrivals, accurate and timely baggage delivery, and profits. Now it's just profits. Read the rest

Traditional capitalism needs "extra" people, but managerial capitalism has no use for them

The Nation's outstanding roundtable  What Will Kill Neoliberalism? has many admirable interventions (including a notable one from Paul "Postcapitalism" Mason), but the one that got me right between the eyes was William Darity, Jr's "A Revolution of Managers." Read the rest

The electable Mr Corbyn

UK Theresa May called snap UK elections (after promising not to) in order to consolidate power in her own party, shutting up the MPs who didn't fall into line with her policies -- this was the same logic behind her predecessor David Cameron's decision to call a referendum on Brexit, and both banked on the idea that the UK electorate wasn't willing to vote for an "unthinkable" alternative in order to tell the establishment to go fuck itself. Read the rest

Chess set made from car parts

It started when an anonymous Imgur user found an "old Integra cylinder head laying around the shop, collecting dust," which they "dis-assembled and decided to put it to use again." Read the rest

Kickstarting gorgeous, illustrated slipcased classics with art from Pope, Shimuzu and Sienkiewicz

Zachary Zmith writes, "A Kickstarter is funding beautifully-designed and illustrated editions of classic stories, with illustrations from Paul Pope, Yuko Shimizu and Bill Sienkiewicz. They have already met their initial goal to fund a version of Algernon Blackwood's 'The Willows' with art by Paul Pope. If they reach $100k, Bill Sienkiewicz will illustrate H.G. Wells' vivisection classic." Read the rest

The anti-Net Neutrality bots that flooded the FCC impersonated dead people

Half a million fake, identical anti-Net Neutrality comments were posted on the FCC's docket on killing Net Neutrality, using identities that appear to have been stolen from a voter registration breach. Read the rest

A dystopian reboot of some sponsored Internet of Shit content

Dan Hon (previously) took note of a sponsored tweet in The Atlantic's Twitter feed: "SPONSORED: The future city: What changes when everything is connected? #MSFTCloud #ad" and decided to have a go at answering the question. The results were fantastic. Read the rest

Leaks: Mercenaries targeted Standing Rock water protectors with anti-terrorist tactics

Tigerswan, a secretive private mercenary company, was hired by Energy Transfer Partners to run campaigns against Dakota Access Pipeline protesters in five states, including states in which they were not licensed to operate -- the measures they deployed were developed as counterterrorism tactics. Read the rest

The Malta Files: a European version of the Panama Papers, revealing a global web of corruption

On Friday, a variety of news outlets around the world published the Malta Files, a cache of 150,000 documents leaked "from a Malta-based provider of legal, financial and corporate services," revealing, among other things, that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was secretly given a $25M oil tanker (!) by Azeri billionaire Mübariz Mansimov, a "friend" of Trump's who was present at the inauguration. Read the rest

The Realist: trenchant, beautifully surreal Israeli comics about a sweet and complicated existence

Asaf Hanuka is a celebrated Israeli cartoonist whose astonishing, surreal illustrations serve as counterpoint to sweet (sometimes too-sweet) depictions of his family life, his complicated existence as a member of a visible minority in Israel, the fear he and his family live with, and his own pleasures and secret shames -- a heady, confessional, autobiographical brew that has just been collected into The Realist: Plug and Play, the second volume of Hanuka's comics.

19th century reporters carried clubs and knives to defend themselves against murderous Congressjerks

Hey, who knew? The reporter-beating crazed thug (and now Congressjerk!) Greg Gianforte is part of a long and dishonorable tradition of American Congressional reps who lashed out at the press! Read the rest

Watch: Endoscopic video of beatboxer's larynx and throat

Beatboxer Tom Thum had ENT doctor and laryngeal surgeon Dr Matthew Broadhurst shine an endoscopic camera down his throat while beatboxing: "I wanted to find out how my larynx functioned when beatboxing compared to how it functions normally with speech, and whether or not there were any abnormalities in my laryngeal anatomy. I also had very little idea of what the inside of my throat and all my noise producing mechanisms actually looked like. The results were fascinating yet horrifyingly graphic and will probably make a few people spew in their laps." (via JWZ) Read the rest

Gastric bypass surgery radically improves subjects' gut biomes

Gastric bypass surgery is remarkably effective at promoting weight-loss (it cuts the long-term risk of early death from morbid obesity by 40%), and it's long been presumed that the major action by which it worked was that, by bypassing the parts of the gut where most food absorbtion takes place, it limited the calories that subjects' bodies could harvest from the food they ate. Read the rest

Medical implants and hospital systems are still infosec dumpster-fires

Medical devices have long been the locus of information security's scariest failures: from the testing and life-support equipment in hospitals to the implants that go in your body: these systems are often designed to harvest titanic amounts of data about you, data you're not allowed to see that's processed by code you're not allowed to audit, with potential felony prosecutions for security researchers who report defects in these systems (only partially mitigated by a limited exemption that expires next year). What's more, it can get much worse. Read the rest

Most Chipotle restaurants were hacked by credit-card stealing malware

Did you think you got away clean when you ate at Chipotle without dying of listeria? Not so fast! Read the rest

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