Late last month, the Boston Globe published a blockbuster scoop revealing the existence of "Quiet Skies," a secret TSA program that sent Air Marshals out to shadow travelers who were not on any watchlist and had committed to crime, on flimsy pretenses like "This person once visited Turkey."
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Eric Lundgren is the PC recycler who is going to jail for 18 months for having a Chinese factory duplicate the obsolete Windows restore CDs Microsoft lets you download for free and authorizes recyclers to distribute.
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Buying products that are locally grown or made in your community is a great way to bolster your local economy and support small businesses in your community. Unfortunately being able to tell which products actually come from near the area where you live can be next to impossible, thanks to lax regulation and bullshit on the part of international conglomerates.
According to USA Today (disclaimer: I occasionally write for their tech site, Reviewed.com), many of the state branding programs put in place to inform consumers of where the the food that they're buying comes from don't mean a damn thing. This is because many of the food branding programs currently in place allow for up to half of the ingredients in a product to come from out of state.
Over the past four months, USA Today had reporters in their network hunt down the laws and regulations surrounding how locally-sourced products are presented for sale. Of the 45 states that rock these branding programs, 18 of them set no minimum requirement for how much locally-grown content needs to be in a product to earn a state brand. Worse still, 36 of the 45 states have no annual inspection process to be able to vet whether companies are actually using locally sourced ingredients in their products. And even if they were to get caught for lying about what's in the junk they make, 40 of the states with local source branding programs have no penalties for mislabeled products. So, a company could falsely claim to be making cookies in your basement and they wouldn't face any consequences for doing so. Read the rest
I've lived my whole life as a pale, red headed fella. So, I say this, with authority: white people are dicks.
According to Smithsonian.com, white pioneers and archeologists in the 18th and 19th centuries pumped out a bullshit story about Cahokia, once the largest Native American city north of Mexico, as having been built by the Welsh, Vikings, Hindus – anyone but the indigenous population:
The city of Cahokia is one of many large earthen mound complexes that dot the landscapes of the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys and across the Southeast. Despite the preponderance of archaeological evidence that these mound complexes were the work of sophisticated Native American civilizations, this rich history was obscured by the Myth of the Mound Builders, a narrative that arose ostensibly to explain the existence of the mounds. Examining both the history of Cahokia and the historic myths that were created to explain it reveals the troubling role that early archaeologists played in diminishing, or even eradicating, the achievements of pre-Columbian civilizations on the North American continent, just as the U.S. government was expanding westward by taking control of Native American lands.
So yeah: it's hard to claim that you're displacing or irradiating a gaggle of savages when they prove themselves to be part of a society with a culture and history that's just as complex as your own.
Cahokia's collection of earthen mound structures aren't the only ones said to have been created by a mysterious group of builders. Similar sites can be found all over Ohio, the Mississippi Valley and well into the Southeast. Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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
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 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
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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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
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
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.
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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.
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
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
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
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
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