Happy birthday, Carl Sagan. Wish you were here.

Today would have been Carl Sagan's 84th birthday. I wish he were here.

Watch the above, climb aboard your Ship of the Imagination, and make the future.

View this post on Instagram

My dear wonderful dad would be 84 today. I find that very hard to imagine. I spend a lot of time wondering what he would be like as an old man. I wish I could know that version of him. Just as I wish I could know the version of him pictured here, young and full of promise. I miss all the versions of him. The ones I knew and the ones I didn’t. Thank you to everyone who knew him and everyone who didn’t who still misses him, who still reads his work, who still thinks of him. It means a lot. #carlsaganday

A post shared by Sasha Sagan (@sashasagan) on Nov 9, 2018 at 7:12am PST

Read the rest

PETA frees animal crackers from their cages

For more than 100 years, the animals on the Barnum's Animal Crackers' packaging were depicted in a circus cage. Now, thanks to a request from PETA, that has all changed.

The animal rights organization asked Mondelez, Nabisco's parent company, to remove the bars in a letter sent in 2016, according to AP:

“Given the egregious cruelty inherent in circuses that use animals and the public’s swelling opposition to the exploitation of animals used for entertainment, we urge Nabisco to update its packaging in order to show animals who are free to roam in their natural habitats,” PETA said in its letter.

Mondelez agreed and started working on a redesign. In the meantime, the crackers’ namesake circus — Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey — folded for good. The 146-year-old circus, which had removed elephants from its shows in 2016 because of pressure from PETA and others, closed down in May 2017 due to slow ticket sales.

The redesign of the boxes, now on U.S. store shelves, retains the familiar red and yellow coloring and prominent “Barnum’s Animals” lettering. But instead of showing the animals in cages — implying that they’re traveling in boxcars for the circus — the new boxes feature a zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe and gorilla wandering side-by-side in a grassland. The outline of acacia trees can be seen in the distance.

The box before:

Thanks, Tracy!

photo by Trent Musho via PETA Read the rest

Four Thieves Vinegar Collective: DIY epipens were just the start, now it's home bioreactors to thwart Big Pharma's price-gouging

When last we met the Four Thieves Vinegar collective -- a group of anarchist scientists who combine free/open chemistry with open source hardware in response to shkrelic gouging by pharma companies -- they were announcing the epipencil, a $30 DIY alternative to the Epipen, Mylan's poster-child for price-gouging and profiteering on human misery. Read the rest

What it's like when Nazis infiltrate your conference

HOPE -- Hackers on Planet Earth -- is 2600 Magazine's venerable, much-loved hacker conference in NYC, a bastion of progressive politics whose 2018 installment was slated to be the most progressive yet, with discussions scheduled on countering alt-right trolling, consent, sexual harrassment, and the rights of sex-workers. Read the rest

84K: A grim meathook future novel of exterminism, with a theory of change and a glimmer of hope in its centre

UK writer Claire North's 84K is a grim tale of a near-future Britain in which Toryism has come to its logical extreme, with all functions of the state assumed by a single massive corporation, and with all human life weighed and priced by how "socially useful" it is.

ABC News in 1979 looks forward to 2017's solar eclipse

"May the shadow of the moon fall on a world at peace."

Frank Reynolds anchored from New York, with live reports from former science correspondence Jules Bergman and reporter Bob Miller. Live images from Portland, Oregon, Washington state's Goldendale Observatory and Helena, Montana.

It might seem strange, and certainly cold comfort to those who suffered and still suffer, but his wish has been mostly granted. The world has a lot to lose.

Read the rest

How Darth Vader's amazing final scene in Rogue One happened

Star Wars: Rogue One director Gareth Edwards tells the fascinating backstory behind Darth Vader's brutal stroll down the hallway in Rogue One. (Wired)

And if you missed it yesterday, check out the Star Wars: Rogue One ending flow into A New Hope beginning.

Read the rest

Harvey Milk's "Hope" speech is worth a revisit today

This excerpt from Harvey Milk's famous "Hope" speech, given at the start of the last anti-LGBT backlash, is brimming with timeless wisdom and inspiration. Another excerpt from the full speech: Read the rest

Polls not looking good for Trump after Orlando

Despite a couple of recent outliers, Donald Trump's polling is grim: 94% unfavorability among black voters being one new number doing the rounds. It's so dire, in fact, Hillary appears set to win in a landslide despite her own shortcomings. Jeet Heer:

Trump’s manic, narcissistic, and immature response to the Orlando massacre has been a key turning point—or, looked at another way, a final straw. Just as Republican elites were learning to live with Trump, so long as he kept his promise to act more “presidential,” he’s now made it clear that he’ll continue to be the same old Trump the world has known for decades. The result is that elected Republican officials are starting to un-endorse Trump or say they won’t back his presidential bid. Republican governors in Maryland, Michigan, and Massachusetts have all said they won’t vote for Trump.

Read the rest

3D printed bump keys make short work of high-security locks

High-end locks rely on their unique key-shapes to prevent "bumping" (opening a lock by inserting a key-blank and hitting it with a hammer, causing the pins to fly up), but you can make a template for a bump key by photographing the keyhole and modelling it in software. Read the rest

2600's HOPE X conference accepts Bitcoin signups

Emmanuel Goldstein from 2600 magazine writes, "The HOPE X conference (July 18-20, New York City) is now accepting Bitcoin for preregistration. It's believed this is the first time in North America that any conference (other than a couple of Bitcoin conferences) has accepted the digital currency. Quite a few people have been requesting this for a while - and a hacker conference is exactly the kind of place where such experiments should be tried out. In addition to allowing people to preregister with a minimum of identifying information, it also presents attendees and non-attendees alike with a way of making new projects at the conference possible by donating additional bitcoins if desired. It will be most interesting to see if this method of payment is embraced by HOPE X attendees." Read the rest

Helped by friends, cartoonist battles Parkinson's

Courtesy of Richard Thompson

Cartoonist Richard Thompson's voice was quiet and reedy when we spoke, although the traces of his Maryland upbringing are clear. His voice sometimes gives out on him, he said, because of Parkinson's disease, a degenerative neuromuscular condition, with which he was diagnosed in 2009. I could understand him just fine when we spoke recently, but, as with so many aspects of his body's expression of Parkinson's, Thompson has just had to learn to work around it. Read the rest

Shepard Fairey pleads guilty over "Hope" court case

No more hope. LA-based street artist Shepard Fairey today entered a guilty plea in his criminal case with the Associated Press. He's facing a maximum sentence of six months in prison. The criminal case concerns not the intellectual property dispute itself, but charges of "criminal contempt for destroying documents, manufacturing evidence and other misconduct" in the civil case, which was settled out of court with AP. Read the rest

Tent Hope

By Mike Estee. Here's a PDF. (thanks, @nicoles). Read the rest

Shepard Fairey's new "Occupy Hope" poster, in which Obama's face is replaced by a Guy Fawkes mask

Oh boy. Here we go again. Read the rest