Even without explicit collusion, pricing algorithms converge on price-fixing strategies

Literally the only kind of monopolistic behavior that the US government is willing to prosecute is price fixing, and that's why it's so important to read Artificial intelligence, algorithmic pricing, and collusion, a paper by four Italian economists from the University of Bologna who document how price-fixing is an emergent property of pricing algorithms -- the systems online merchants use to price-match with their competitors. Read the rest

Most adults are incapable of understanding most online terms of service

A new paper by a business professor and a contract law professor evaluated the terms and conditions of 500 leading websites and found that the 99% of them required at least 14 years of education to truly comprehend, far more than the majority of US adults have attained. Read the rest

How Epson's patent trolling is killing the EU market for replacement ink

If you're thinking of buying an Epson printer, think again (if you were unlucky enough to buy one already, consider switching): in an industry marked by the dirtiest of tricks to force customers to spend vast fortunes on ink that costs pennies to manufacture, Epson has marked itself out as a true innovator of sleazy tactics. Read the rest

How a cryptographer uses a key engraver

Legendary cryptographer and security researcher Matt Blaze (previously) somehow acquired a key engraver and now he's "using it to engrave entirely serious labels on my keys that are not in any way ironic or confusing." Read the rest

The Final Version of the EU's Copyright Directive Is the Worst One Yet

Despite ringing denunciations from small EU tech businesses, giant EU entertainment companies, artists' groups, technical experts, and human rights experts, and the largest body of concerned citizens in EU history, the EU has concluded its "trilogues" on the new Copyright Directive, striking a deal that -- amazingly -- is worse than any in the Directive's sordid history. Read the rest

Beyond GIGO: how "predictive policing" launders racism, corruption and bias to make them seem empirical

"Predictive policing" is the idea that you can feed crime stats to a machine-learning system and it will produce a model that can predict crime. It is garbage. Read the rest

Stranger Things Dungeons and Dragons is a real thing

You can pre-order an official Dungeons and Dragons/Stranger Things RPG, packaged like a pre-distressed Red Box Basic D&D box, including a (barely) painted and unpainted demogorgon mini, character sheets, a starter campaign, a rulebook, and a set of polyhedral dice: $25 at Big Bad Toy Store. I've been recreating my perfect RPG shelf in pieces, and this kind of thing skewers me right through the guts. (via Super Punch) Read the rest

Tracking down Dick Davy, a mysterious "lost" comedian who once championed civil rights and antiracism

Jason from the Comedy on Vinyl podcast writes, "I've spent the last eight years interviewing people from Rachel Bloom to Harry Shearer about their favorite vinyl comedy albums on my podcast, 'Comedy on Vinyl.' A few weeks ago, inspired by the brilliant podcast 'Mystery Show,' I decided to do something new, as I attempted to uncover the true identity and life story of long-lost comedian Dick Davy. A character comic, a white guy who won over The Apollo, and a civil rights activist who later settled into obscurity, Dick Davy's story temporarily took over my life and renewed my faith in comedy as a potential agent for change." (MP3) Read the rest

Chuck Schumer's general counsel, once a Goldman Sachs lobbyist, won't disclose the names of 95% of his former clients

Mark Patterson is Chuck Schumer's general counsel; he used to be a lobbyist for Goldman Sachs, and he had 20 important clients, 19 of whom he has declined to name on his financial disclosure statements. Read the rest

Burning Man purges one-percenter camp that charged up to $100K, littered like crazy, and ripped off its attendees

Burning Man has long struggled with the tension between its commitment to "radical decommodification" and grifters and their ultra-high-net-worth marks who organize "turnkey camps" where you can pay giant sums to pretend to be a Burning Man "participant" while being looked after by paid "sherpas" (including, rumor has it, sex workers), in luxury settings designed to repel non-paying attendees (sometimes guarded by private security guards). Read the rest

Ios and Android app stores both host Saudi government app that lets men track their spouses' movements

Senator Ron Wyden has publicly denounced both Apple and Google for hosting mobile apps that connect to Absher, a Saudi government service designed to allow Saudi men to track their spouses and employees' whereabouts at all times. Read the rest

Blizzard/Activision celebrates record revenues by laying off 800 employees

Blizzard/Activision posted $7.5b in net revenues for 2018, and announced that it would lay off 800 of the employees who made those revenues possible, but fear not! The last time the company did a mass layoff (600 people in 2012), it generously rehired those people as temps, doing the same jobs for less pay, with no security or benefits. Read the rest

Teen journalists profile each of the 1,200+ US children killed by guns since Parkland

More than 200 teen journalists have come together to write Since Parkland, which profiles each of the more than 1,200 children killed by guns in the USA since the Parkland shooting (not including suicides, kids killed by cops, or shooters who were themselves killed while committing shootings): "The reporting you will read in 'Since Parkland' is journalism in one of its purest forms — revealing the human stories behind the statistics — carried out on an exhaustive scale." A reminder that we do more to keep kids from getting their shots than we do to keep them from getting shot. (via Kottke) Read the rest

Leak: Apple is demanding 50% of the revenue from its "Netflix for news" product

Apple's been playing Lucy-and-the-football with the media industry for years now, exploiting the media's horrible Daddy Complex that has it forever searching for a tech company that will give it a sustainable future. Read the rest

Phone scammer tried to con William Webster, the only person ever to serve as director of both the CIA and FBI: it did not go well

Keniel A Thomas is part of the wave of violent phone scam gangs that have led to chaos in cities across the island; he made the mistake of trying to con the 90-year-old William Webster out of $50,000 with a hamfisted advance-fee fraud scam, not realizing that Webster is a top US spook, the only person ever to have served as chief of both the CIA and FBI. Read the rest

Denver students boycott school board lesson plans, stage dance party in solidarity with striking teachers instead

Denver's teachers Read the rest

Police lobbyist: cops will not be motivated to stop crime unless they are allowed to steal people's stuff

South Carolina cops love the state's civil asset forfeiture laws, which allow the police to seize any property they believe represents the proceeds of a crime and keep it, unless the property's former owner hires a lawyer to prove the innocence of their goods: more than $17m was seized last year, and in a fifth of these cases, no one was convicted of a crime (71% of the people whose stuff gets stolen by South Carolina cops are Black). Read the rest

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