'NO.' God tells Michele Bachmann not to run for Al Franken's Senate seat

A billboard mysteriously appears in St. Paul, Minn. in which God offers a special message to noted crazy ex-congresscritter Michele Bachmann. Hope she obeys The Lord.

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Clock mysteriously photoshopped out of Tillerson photo

Reality, and all the facts and things in it, are negotiable. Even the clocks on the wall.

Soon after a two-hour secret visit to Afghanistan by Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson on Monday was publicly disclosed, the American Embassy and the office of President Ashraf Ghani made statements about their productive meeting in Kabul.

The problem is that the meeting was not in Kabul, but in a windowless room in Bagram, the heavily fortified American military base a 90-minute drive away. The misinformation, apparently meant to obscure the true venue, was betrayed by discrepancies in similar photographs released by the Americans and the Afghans.

The photoshopping here was done by the Afghan side. Still, a good example of how the administration has a knack for exposing the stupidity of everything that tries to cooperate with it.

Trumpistemology: the incompetent free-range rewriting of the world that occurs after consensus reality is marginalized. Read the rest

Daily Mail retracts global warming article, but did anyone notice?

Earlier this year, UK tabloid The Daily Mail, famous for its incompetent fakery, published a bombshell article claiming "World leaders duped by manipulated global warming data". This article was hailed by conservative media from Breitbart to The National Review as proof of what they were saying all along. Sadly for them, the Mail has admitted its misleading and inaccurate reporting and, to satisfy press regulators, added a deadpan self-debunking at the top of the article.

...the significance of Dr Bates' concerns about the archiving procedures had been misrepresented in the article, and the newspaper had taken no steps to establish the veracity of Dr Bates' claims. World leaders had not been 'duped', as the headline said, and there was no 'irrefutable evidence' that the paper was based on 'misleading, unverified data', as the article had claimed....

The graph which accompanied the article had provided a visual illustration of the newspaper's contention regarding the difference between the 'flawed' NOAA data and other, 'verified', data. The newspaper's failure to plot the lines correctly represented a breach of Clause 1 (i), and there had been a further failure to correct the significantly misleading impression created as a result.

And that's just the stuff the British press ombudsman cares about; the scientific goofs in the article are legion. This juxtaposition of the bullshit against the facts show the gist of it:

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UK Home Secretary evolves the self-serving crypto-denialism argument with exciting new bullshit

UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd has demanded that online services stop using working cryptography in their products, and instead leave all your communications vulnerable to interception by criminals, governments, businesses and spies. Read the rest

In bizarre tweet, Trump says those investigating him told him to fire Comey

Donald Trump just claimed that "I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director!"

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Ask the FCC for proof it was crashed by DDoS -- not outraged Net Neutrality commenters

After John Oliver produced another amazing video that called on the internet to tell the FCC not to kill Net Neutrality (and gave them an easy way to penetrate the FCC's thicket of bureaucratic nonsense designed to keep people away), the FCC's website crashed -- a seeming repeat of 2014, when Oliver helped spur a movement that brought the FCC to its knees. Read the rest

Juvenile criminal defense attorneys forced to agree to Taser's terms of service to see the state's evidence

California criminal defense attorney Rick Horowitz had a juvenile client, he was shocked when the prosecutor in the case told him that to see the evidence against his client, he'd have to log in to evidence.com, run by Taser International (now rebranded as Axon). Read the rest

Senate votes to allow ISPs to collect and sell personal data without permission

In a party-line split, the U.S. Senate today voted to allow internet service providers to retain personal data without permission and sell it to whomever might pay for it.

The Senate voted 50:48 in favor of S.J. 34, which would remove the rules and, under the authority of the Congressional Review Act, prevent similar rules from being enacted. It now heads to the House for approval.

“If signed by the President, this law would repeal the FCC’s widely-supported broadband privacy framework, and eliminate the requirement that cable and broadband providers offer customers a choice before selling their sensitive, personal information,” said FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny in a joint statement.

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Deflationary Intelligence: in 2017, everything is "AI"

Ian Bogost (previously) describes the "deflationary" use of "artificial intelligence" to describe the most trivial computer science innovations and software-enabled products, from Facebook's suicide detection "AI" (a trivial word-search program that alerts humans) to the chatbots that are billed as steps away from passing a Turing test, but which are little more than glorified phone trees, and on whom 40% of humans give up after a single conversational volley. Read the rest

Data shows that male animals are not naturally promiscuous, nor are females naturally reticent

It's a commonplace that in the natural world, males attempt to mate with multiple females, while females attempt to entice males into being monogamous; this is attributed to the high cost of producing an egg and bearing children (or laying eggs) for females, and the low cost of sperm production for males. Read the rest

Kellyanne Conway: lies are "alternative facts" and if the press says otherwise, there's gonna be trouble

Donald Trump's press secretary Sean Spicer inaugurated his first day on the job by telling easily falsifiable lies about the relative sizes of the Trump inauguration crowds and those of the Obama administration. Read the rest

Obviously fake "paid protester" site sets right wing media aflutter

Demand Protest, a service that bills itself as providing "deliver[ing the appearance of rage] at scale while keeping your reputation intact" purportedly pays protesters $2500/month plus $50/hour for left-wing protesters to take to the streets, and claims to have run 48 campaigns, despite having only registered its domain last month (it also displays a copyright notice that spans 2015-2017). Read the rest

Inside this Star Wars blanket's box, a card informing you that you've just waived your right to sue

When you open the box for a Storm Trooper snuggie blanket, you'll discover a card telling you that by buying the blanket, you've waived your right to sue the manufacturer and will subject yourself to binding arbitration if your blanket gives you cancer or burns you to death or any of the other bad things textiles can do. Read the rest

A potential college course on detecting and combating bullshit in all its forms

University of Washington profs Carl T. Bergstrom (Biology) and Jevin West (Information School) have proposed a course called "Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data" that characterizes "the majority of administrative activity" as "sophisticated exercise(s) in the combinatorial reassembly of bullshit" and aims to train students to "navigate the bullshit-rich modern environment by identifying bullshit, seeing through it, and combatting it with effective analysis and argument." Read the rest

Why are license "agreements" so uniformly terrible?

An excerpt from The End of Ownership: Personal Property in the Digital Economy, by Aaron Perzanowski and Jason Schultz, coming this Friday from MIT Press.

"Power Poses" are bullshit

In 2010, three psychologists published a paper on "power poses", with their finding that people who adopted "power poses" -- think of superheroes on skyscrapers -- felt more powerful and took more risks. Read the rest

Trump campaign chief: it's not lying if he didn't know whether it was true or not when he said it

Donald Trump said Lester Holt, tonight's debate moderator, was a Democrat. Holt is in fact a Republican. Leaving aside why Trump assumed he was a Democrat, when called on this mistake, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway gave this response: Read the rest

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