It Feels Good to Be Yourself: a sweet, simple picture book about gender identity

Theresa Thorn (co-host of the excellent parenting podcast One Bad Mother and Jesse Thorn (proprietor of the excellent Maximum Fun podcasting network) have a transgender daughter; Theresa has written a beautiful, sweet picture book about gender identity based on her experiences with her trans kid: It Feels Good to Be Yourself. Read the rest

Machine learning classifiers are up to 20% less accurate when labeling photos from homes in poor countries

A new study from Facebook AI Research evaluates common machine-learning classifiers' ability to label photos of objects found in households in rich countries versus household objects from poor countries and finds that the models' performance lags significantly when being asked to classify the possessions of poor people. Read the rest

The latest popular uprising in Hong Kong is fighting to keep Beijing from dragging dissidents to mainland China

Hong Kong's 2016 Umbrella Revolution saw weeks of mass protests over a change to nomination rules for the city's ruling council, in which the central government in Beijing arrogated to itself the right to decide who could be on the ballot (Boss Tweed: "I don't care who gets to do the voting, so long as I get to do the nominating"). Read the rest

When you take a commercial genetic test, you opt your whole family into warrantless state genetic surveillance

Cops are increasingly turning to commercial gene-testing services to solve crimes, using a process called "genetic genealogy" that uses the records of people who are near-matches for DNA from crime scenes to zero in on suspects; that's how they caught the Golden State Killer, but cops don't just ask genetics services for data when they're after killers, sometimes they deputize these services to help them solve petty crimes. Read the rest

Mary Meeker's 2019 Internet Trends: stalled growth, security dumpster-fires, more online education and fear of regulation

Every year, VC Mary Meeker (previously) publishes her must-read Internet Trends Report, which comes as a powerpoint deck with hundreds of slides (you can watch her power through them in 30 minutes flat at the Re-Code conference). Read the rest

A deep dive into stalkerware's creepy marketing, illegal privacy invasions, and terrible security

Stalkerware -- spyware sold to people as a means of keeping tabs on their romantic partners, kids, employees, etc -- is a dumpster fire of terrible security (compounded by absentee management), sleazy business practices, and gross marketing targeted at abusive men who want to spy on women. Read the rest

Amazon unveils a new Echo Dot surveillance device for children

The latest addition to Amazon's line of always-on, ever-listening, networked, insecure (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) snitchy smart speakers is the new rev of the Echo Dot Kids Edition, whose "kid-friendly" Alexa is like surveillance Barbie without the pretense of being a toy. Read the rest

Talking with Neal Stephenson about his latest book, "Fall; or, Dodge in Hell"

Veteran reviewer/interviewer Rick Kleffel (previously) has just posted a long podcast interview (MP3) with Neal Stephenson, discussing his latest novel, Fall; or, Dodge in Hell ("a science fiction novel with a fantasy novel stuck inside of it"). Read the rest

Twitter's anti-Nazi policies result bans on pictures of anti-Nazi books

Twitter's Sensitive Media Policy bans the display of "symbols historically associated with hate groups" in your profile or banner, and of course that includes the covers of books that criticize hate groups, such as David Neiwert's 2017 book, Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump, whose cover features a stylized US flag in which the stars are all wearing little Klan hoods. Read the rest

In homeless LA, the families, retirees and working people who live in their cars are desperate for overnight parking

LA's homelessness epidemic continues to rage unabated as housing prices soar and wages stagnate; the result is a "wheel estate" boom of people living in cars and vans, with the greatest proportion of vehicles-dwellers being seniors, families with children, and working people. Read the rest

"The Grand Dark": Kadrey's latest is a noir, dieselpunk masterpiece that's timely as hell

Regular readers will know Richard Kadrey (previously) from his bestselling Sandman Slim series, but as much as I love those books, I think I love his latest, "The Grand Dark" -- a noir/dieselpunk novel set in a fictionalized weimar city in a brief, hectic interwar period -- even more. Read the rest

The Church of the Subgenius's Salvation Pack is the best $35 I ever spent

A couple of weeks ago, I was thrilled to hear Subgenius founder, the Reverend Ivan Stang, interviewed on the Comedy on Vinyl podcast (previously) and to discover that the Church of the Subgenius was selling a $35 Salvation/Membership/Ordainment kit that was chock full of goodies. Read the rest

Countries with longer copyright terms have access to fewer books (pay attention, Canada!)

Rebecca Giblin (previously) writes, "We've just dropped a new study we've been working on for a year. You know how it keeps being claimed that we need longer copyrights because nobody will invest in making works available if they're in the public domain? Heald and some others have done some great work debunking that in the US context, but now we've finally tested this hypothesis in other countries by looking at the relative availability of ebooks to libraries. It's also the first time anyone has been able to compare availability of identical works (by significant authors) across jurisdictions. The books we sampled were all in the public domain in Canada and NZ, all under copyright in Australia, and a mix in the US (courtesy of its historical renewal system)." Read the rest

Hackers stole a US Customs and Border Patrol facial recognition database

Data from facial recognition scans performed by US Customs and Border Patrol on travelers crossing at an unnamed lander border point (an anonymous source says it's a US-Canada crossing) have been stolen by hacker or hackers unknown. Read the rest

Chrome-derived browsers threaten to fork from Google, refuse to eliminate ad-blocker features

Google's decision to restrict access to the Chrome API needed for full ad-blocking to paid enterprise customers was especially worrisome because Chrome's free/open derivative, Chromium, is the basis for many other browsers, including Microsoft's Edge, as well as Opera and the privacy-focused Brave. Read the rest

How fanfic archives lead the world in data organization

Since the earliest days of the "semantic web,", millions of dollars and hours of coding effort have been thrown at the problem of really organizing large corpuses of information, with two approaches emerging: rigid ontologies (like the Dewey Decimal system) that require a system's users to be deeply expert in the structures they're working in; and "folksonomies" (aka hashtags), which allow anyone to tag anything with anything, and leads to fragmentation (like #sign or #signs; or #photos, #pix, and #pictures, etc). Read the rest

Detroit charter school salutatorians use their graduation speeches to condemn their school for putting profits before kids

Zainab Altalaqani and Tuhfa Kasem both graduated from Detroit's Universal Academy this year, and to honor their academic achievements, school administrators named them co-salutatorians, which meant that they would get to address the graduating class, faculty and parents at their graduation ceremony: but instead of using their podium-time to reminisce about their good times in high school or to wonder about their futures, they condemned the school as a for-profit entity that put profits ahead of students' education, firing qualified teachers who complained to the school board about the use of unqualified "paraprofessionals" in classrooms. Read the rest

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