Last week, a redditor posted that "When I load the Xiaomi camera in my Google home hub I get stills from other people's homes!!" The post included video of the user's tablet showing stills of strangers in their homes, including some of strangers asleep in their bedrooms.
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In the December 9, 2019 issue of The New Yorker, Joshua Rothman profiles one of the most influential authors in recent decades, William Gibson.
Gibson doesn’t have a name for his method; he knows only that it isn’t about prediction. It proceeds, instead, from a deep engagement with the present. When Gibson was starting to write, in the late nineteen-seventies, he watched kids playing games in video arcades and noticed how they ducked and twisted, as though they were on the other side of the screen. The Sony Walkman had just been introduced, so he bought one; he lived in Vancouver, and when he explored the city at night, listening to Joy Division, he felt as though the music were being transmitted directly into his brain, where it could merge with his perceptions of skyscrapers and slums. His wife, Deborah, was a graduate student in linguistics who taught E.S.L. He listened to her young Japanese students talk about Vancouver as though it were a backwater; Tokyo must really be something, he thought. He remembered a weeping ambulance driver in a bar, saying, “She flatlined.” On a legal pad, Gibson tried inventing words to describe the space behind the screen; he crossed out “infospace” and “dataspace” before coming up with “cyberspace.” He didn’t know what it might be, but it sounded cool, like something a person might explore even though it was dangerous.
(Image: William Gibson by Frédéric Poirot , CC-BY) Read the rest
Does cooking a Impossible Burger on the same surface used to cook normal burgers "contaminate" them with meat by-products? Is Burger King doing this? A vegan diner makes these claims in a lawsuit filed Monday against the fast-food chain. Reuters:
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The lawsuit filed in Miami federal court seeks damages for all U.S. purchasers of the Impossible Whopper, and an injunction requiring Burger King to “plainly disclose” that Impossible Whoppers and regular burgers are cooked on the same grills. [Burger King] describes the Impossible Burger as “100% Whopper, 0% Beef,” and adds that “for guests looking for a meat-free option, a non-broiler method of preparation is available upon request.”
C4D4U's SOFTBODY TETRIS V16 is (as the name implies), the latest in a series of "softbody" simulations of Tetris, in which the tetronimoes are rubbery, jelly-like solids that glisten as they wobble into place. It's an incredibly soothing thing to watch (C4D4U calls them "ASMR for my eyes") and part of a wider genre of softbody sims. JWZ argues that this "becomes intolerable" upon the "realization that completed rows don't liquify" but if that's your thing, you need SOFTBODY TETRIS V9.
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This kind man assisted a beaver with a heavy burden. Read the rest
The Supreme Court today issued an administrative stay that blocks a subpoena from House Democrats for Donald Trump's tax returns. Read the rest
A federal court ruled today that an atheist gentleman from Kentucky should be permitted to get a personalized license plate from the state with the phrase “IM GOD” on it. The man is committed to his cause -- this only took three years of legal fighting. Read the rest
10-week-old puppy Narwhal has tail-like appendage growing from forehead
Staff at Mac's Mission, an animal rescue center in Missouri, named him Narwhal. The healthy 10-week-old pup has an extra tail, smack in the middle of his forehead.
Rochelle Steffen, who runs Mac's Mission, named after a pit-bull terrier she rescued seven and a half years ago, told BBC News Narwhal "is in no pain and plays for hours". ... And X-rays had showed his secondary tail, about a third the size of his actual tail, was not connected to anything and served no purpose other than to make him the "coolest puppy ever".
Narwhal will not be made available for adoption until he's grown up some, to confirm the secondary tail is healthy. Read the rest
Cutting through the vertical bollards in Trump's "virtually impenetrable" wall takes mere minutes, using a $100 reciprocating saw and "extreme metal cutting" blades that sell for $10-15; once cut, the length of the bollards provides leverage to wall-cutters so they can be easily bent to allow a person to pass through them, and afterwards, the bollards can be replaced and cemented with easy-to-cut putty that border patrol officers often mistake for official repair welds (these welds are only slightly harder to cut through than the putty).
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Seven Stories press just released this gorgeous boxed set of Octavia E. Butler's Parable novels. It's available today and would make a great gift for any reader.
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This boxed set pairs the bestselling Nebula-prize nominee, Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents, which together tell the near-future odyssey of Lauren Olamina, a "hyper-empathic" young woman who is twice as feeling in a world that has become doubly dehumanized. In Sower, set in California in 2024, small walled communities protect from hordes of desperate scavengers and roaming bands of "Paints," people addicted to a drug that activates an orgasmic desire to burn, rape, and murder. It is into this landscape that Lauren begins her journey, traveling on foot along the dangerous coastal highways, moving north into the unknown. The book has an introduction by feminist, journalist, activist, and author Gloria Steinem.
Parable of the Talents celebrates the classic Butlerian themes of alienation and transcendence, violence and spirituality, slavery and freedom, separation and community, to astonishing effect, in the shockingly familiar, broken world of 2032. It is told in the voice of Lauren Olamina's daughter –– from whom she has been separated for most of the girl's life –– with selections from Lauren's journal. Against a background of a war-torn continent, and with a far-right religious crusader in the office of the U.S. presidency, this is a book about a society whose very fabric has been torn asunder, and where the basic physical and emotional needs of people seem almost impossible to meet.
One Page Dungeon is a website that procedurally generates a new role-playing dungeon every time you press Enter (or refresh the page).
[via Clive Thompson] Read the rest
Researchers at the University of Richmond in Virginia trained rats to hop into little cars and drive them to collect food. The rats' success suggest their brains have more plasticity than previously assumed. Read the rest
This is some serious Wile E. Coyote-level gopher management going on here. Read the rest
French company Le Creuset has announced a line of its signature enameled cast-iron cookwear themed after the Star Wars franchise; it's expensive even by Le Creuset standards, and a few of the pieces are uninspired messes, but the Han Solo in Carbonite roaster ($450), the R2-D2 Mini Cocotte ($30) and the Porg Pie Bird ($25) are positively brilliant. I'm also fond of the Tattoine Dutch oven, but that one isn't even priced and the company is offering an "opportunity to purchase." (via Geekologie)
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The video is titled "Veterinary Technician Training: Handling a Fractious Cat."
After several viewings, it occurs to me that they mean "cat" as in "hepcat."
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A company scraped information from public profiles on LinkedIn and LinkedIn sued it under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. LinkedIn lost, and now it loses again. Moreover, the court's opinion takes aim at the company's efforts to stop people from accessing information its users post publicly.
The panel affirmed the district court’s preliminary injunction forbidding the professional networking website LinkedIn Corp. from denying plaintiff hiQ, a data analytics company, access to publicly available LinkedIn member profiles. Using automated bots, hiQ scrapes information that LinkedIn users have included on public LinkedIn profiles. LinkedIn sent hiQ a cause-and-desist letter, demanding that hiQ stop accessing and copying data from LinkedIn’s server. HiQ filed suit, seeking injunctive relief based on California law and a declaratory judgment that LinkedIn could not lawfully invoke the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”), the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, California Penal Code § 502(c), or the common law of trespass against it.
Note that this wasn't a copyright infringement claim, as is easy to assume; LinkedIn wasn't claiming ownership of the material being scraped. So the moral of the story is not "finders keepers" but "if you don't want something to be publicly published, don't let your users publish it publicly on your website". Other ways of putting it may be "If you don't want people to hear what your customers are saying, don't be a pub." Or maybe "If you're the sleazest, spammiest, data-suckingest social network on the planet, get in the sea." Read the rest