A crypto primer in the form of Ikea instructions

"Idea-instructions" bills itself as "An ongoing series of nonverbal algorithm assembly instructions", with a half-dozen illustrations of popular computer science concepts covered to date; the latest covers Public-Key Crypto, one of the most important and elusive concepts from modern crypto. Read the rest

New York Federal judge rules that embedding tweets can violate copyright law

Katherine Forrest, an Obama-appointed federal judge in New York, has overturned a bedrock principle of internet law, ruling that embedding a copyrighted work can constitute a copyright infringement on the part of the entity doing the embedding. Read the rest

The 2018 Locus Poll is open: choose your favorite science fiction of 2017!

Following the publication of its editorial board's long-list of the best science fiction of 2017, science fiction publishing trade-journal Locus now invites its readers to vote for their favorites in the annual Locus Award. I'm honored to have won this award in the past, and doubly honored to see my novel Walkaway on the short list, and in very excellent company indeed. Read the rest

Excellent explainer: how consensus algorithms (including Bitcoin/blockchain) work

The creation of "public ledgers" -- like blockchain, popularized by Bitcoin -- requires "consensus algorithms" that allow mutually untrusted, uncoordinated parties to agree on a world-readable, distributed list of things (domain names, transactions, title deeds, etc), something that cryptography makes possible in a variety of ways. Read the rest

Retail Apocalypse, the sim game

Bloomberg's American Mall [Bloomberg] is a retro browser game that invites you to simulate trying to revitalize a crumbling shopping mall, taking on the persona of one of four foolish investors who then has to decide whether to give breaks to your struggling retailers, bribe politicians by contributing to their re-election campaigns, chase out rats and punk teenagers, and try various gambits to tempt customers to come to your retail temple. (via 4 Short Links) Read the rest

Gâteau Gato, a zoetrope of cat confections

French food artist/animator Alexandre Dubosc has done it again. He's created another incredibly impressive zoetrope, this time with a cat theme (previously). It's called "Gâteau Gato" ("cat cake") and it is really quite a delight to watch. I'm not sure which I like better, the curling cookie tongues or the little white mice scurrying away. Fortunately, I don't have to decide.

Dubosc doesn't say how long the cake took to bake, assemble, and film on its "making of" page, but given how detailed the piece is, I'd say many, many hours. Read the rest

Dissidents are getting destroyed by information attacks and tech isn't doing enough to help

A pair of researchers from Toronto's storied Citizen Lab (previously) have written an eye-opening editorial and call to action on the ways that repressive states have used the internet to attack dissidents, human rights advocates and political oppositions -- and how the information security community and tech companies have left these people vulnerable. Read the rest

The Internet Archive's John Perry Barlow collection

It's been less than a week since the death of EFF co-founder, cowboy poet, Grateful Dead lyricist and Mayor of the Internet John Perry Barlow died, and he's already sorely missed. But Barlow was an open access advocate before that was a thing, and the archive of his work at the Internet Archive is full of what Bruce Sterling calls "a lot of weird, flaky, broke-the-mold stuff." Read the rest

The astounding science and engineering of printer jams

Anil Dash's third law holds that "Three things never work: Voice chat, printers and projectors." But Joshua Rothman's long, fascinating, even poetic profile of the Xerox engineers who work on paper-path process improvements is such a bit of hard-science whimsy that it almost makes me forgive every hour I've spent swearing over jammed paper. Read the rest

I Am the Very Model of a New York Times Contrarian

Matthew Dessem's I Am the Very Model of a New York Times Contrarian is a zeitgeisty bit of doggerel that neatly sums up many of my frustrations reading the Grey Lady, stretching all the way back to the paper's shameful sell-job for George W Bush's disastrous Iraq invasion. Read the rest

Amanda Palmer's #metoo song for Judy Blume

Judy Blume is Amanda Palmer's ballad in honor of the author's 80th birthday, celebrating her decades of service in helping young women to navigate a world that labels them as crazy and vain, the nagging sense that it's "just me": "The experiences of her teenage characters ― Deenie, Davey, Tony, Jill, Margaret ― are so thoroughly enmeshed with my own memories that the line between fact and fiction is deliciously thin. My memories of these characters, though I’d prefer to call them “people” ― of Deenie getting felt up in the dark locker room during the school dance; of Davey listlessly making and stirring a cup of tea that she has no intention of drinking; of Jill watching Linda, the fat girl in her class, being tormented by giggling bullies ― are all as vivid, if not more so, as my own memories of kissing Stephen Lee in our elementary school’s auditorium closet atop a pile of gymnastics mats (fourth grade), of being teased by Mike O’Curtin for being too flat-chested (all of sixth and seventh grades), or of discovering that an empty plastic ice pop sheath makes a pretty good dildo when filled with warm water (summer of eighth grade. And believe me, it was a truly great summer.)" Read the rest

Hey, Australia and New Zealand, I'm coming to visit you!

I'm about to embark on a tour of Australia and New Zealand to support my novel Walkaway, with stops in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, and Wellington! I really hope you'll come out and say hello! Read the rest

JUMPSUIT: counterfashion ungendered monogarments

JUMPSUIT is a "counter-fashion" created by "Marxist fashion designers" who solicited Ivanka Trump clothing to be shredded and rewoven into black and white fabric that is custom-made into one of 248-sized "ungendered multi-use monogarments," which come in fitted and unfitted (the winter line has long sleeves and the summer line has short sleeves). Read the rest

Empire Games: Charlie Stross starts a new phase in the Merchant Princes series, blending spycraft, Leninist thought experiments, and parallel dimensions

Charlie Stross's longrunning Merchant Princes series are a sneaky, brilliant techno-economic thought experiment disguised as heroic fantasy, and with Empire Games, the first book of the second phase of the series, Stross throws in a heavy dose of the noirest spycraft, an experiment in dieselpunk Leninism and War on Terror paranoia.

How a kid cartoonist avoided Scholastic's digital sharecropping trap

I'm an 8th grade middle school student at a public school in NYC. In my humanities class we are studying muckraking journalism, and we have an assignment to write a muckraking article about a modern issue. (For those who didn't pay attention during class, muckraking journalism is journalism that became prominent in the late 19th century. A muckraking article digs up and exposes problems in society.) Coincidentally, I recently had a personal experience with a muckrake-able issue. I chose to make lemonade out of lemons, and got a very interesting topic for my assignment--and one that I could write about both professionally and privately. So, I'm posting my homework here.

25 years ago, a mutant American crayfish turned to asexual reproduction, and all of Europe's lakes are filling up with its clones

The marbled crayfish (Procambarus virginalis) is a mutant slough crayfish (Procambarus fallax) an American species; the mutation that allowed slough crayfish to reproduce asexually by cloning itself occurred a mere 25 years ago, and it came to Germany as an aquarium pet in 1995, sold as "Texas crayfish." Read the rest

Unpaywall: a search-engine for authorized, freely accessible versions of scholarly journal articles

Unpaywall is a service that indexes open access repositories, university, government and scholarly society archives, and other sources that make articles available with authorization from the rightsholders and journals -- about 47% of the articles that its users seek. Read the rest

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