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

Broadcasters should time-delay presidential debates, allowing them to mute any outright lies

Dan Gillmor writes: "Time for journalists to declare a boycott on bullshit. Start with muting the sound when Trump lies during the debate." Read the rest

Oppps.ru: patient zero in Russia's fake news epidemic

Donald Trump did not slam the International Paralympic Committee's decision to bar Russian athletes from the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, and the BBC never quoted him as saying, "The decision to bar Russian Paralympics athletes was made by complete retards. These people are the real cripples." But virtually every news outlet in Russia ran a story saying both things were true, after Oppps.ru (The Optimist) ran a completely false story to that effect. Read the rest

Why Facebook's "It's too hard" excuse for Vietnam war photo takedown is bullshit

On Friday, Facebook started deleting posts containing "The Terror of War," Nick Ut's photo depicting a young Vietnamese girl fleeing a napalm attack on her village; Facebook approach this photo with a scorched earth (ahem) policy, even deleting it when it was posted by the Prime Minister of Norway. Read the rest

Facebook returns trending picks to mechanical feed only to see total garbage float to top

After being accused of political bias in its trending news picks, Facebook returned to a purely algorithmic feed. Within hours, the machine picked a gross fake-news hatebait item claiming Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly was being forced out of the network, thereby forcing a human being to remove it from the trending feed. Bias! Read the rest

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