Trump claims, without evidence, that he is "extremely happy"

File with "I can change the 14th Amendment with an executive order" and "no collusion". [via] Read the rest

Facebook lied: its in-home "Portal" cameras will collect your data

Facebook Portal is a camera that is supposed to follow you around your house while you videoconference; the product launch was repeatedly delayed because of the company's string of horrific privacy breaches; when the company finally pulled the trigger on the launch it was at pains to insist that Portal would not collect your data while you used it. Read the rest

Twitter publishes tweet archive of Russian and Iranian state-run troll farms

To enable "further research of information operations on Twitter", the company today published a dataset of tweets posted by known Russian and Iranian troll farms.

In line with our strong principles of transparency and with the goal of improving understanding of foreign influence and information campaigns, we are releasing the full, comprehensive archives of the Tweets and media that are connected with these two previously disclosed and potentially state-backed operations on our service. We are making this data available with the goal of encouraging open research and investigation of these behaviors from researchers and academics around the world.

These large datasets comprise 3,841 accounts affiliated with the IRA, originating in Russia, and 770 other accounts, potentially originating in Iran. They include more than 10 million Tweets and more than 2 million images, GIFs, videos, and Periscope broadcasts, including the earliest on-Twitter activity from accounts connected with these campaigns, dating back to 2009.

Downloads! The Russian set is 1.24GB of tweets, with nearly 300GB of media. The Iranian one is 168MB, with 65GB of media. Read the rest

The art (and science) of lying

Now seems like a fine time to read this Scientific American article titled The Art of Lying by Theodor Schaarschmidt. According to a study conducted by UC Santa Barbara psychologist Bella M. DePaulo and referenced in the article, people make up around two stories every day. Apparently, children "initially have difficulty formulating believable lies, but proficiency improves with age. Young adults between 18 and 29 do it best. After about the age of 45, we begin to lose this ability." From Scientific American:

Current thinking about the psychological processes involved in deception holds that people typically tell the truth more easily than they tell a lie and that lying requires far more cognitive resources. First, we must become aware of the truth; then we have to invent a plausible scenario that is consistent and does not contradict the observable facts. At the same time, we must suppress the truth so that we do not spill the beans—that is, we must engage in response inhibition. What is more, we must be able to assess accurately the reactions of the listener so that, if necessary, we can deftly produce adaptations to our original story line. And there is the ethical dimension, whereby we have to make a conscious decision to transgress a social norm. All this deciding and self-control implies that lying is managed by the prefrontal cortex—the region at the front of the brain responsible for executive control, which includes such processes as planning and regulating emotions and behavior.

"The Art of Lying" (Scientific American)

image: screenshot of Pinocchio film trailer, public domain Read the rest

FBI dumps all over Trump's Clinton-China hacking distraction

Trump repeating conspiracy theories does not make them true, Fox NEWS has to repeat them 30 more times.

Via Ars Technica:

The Federal Bureau of Investigations issued a terse statement today regarding President Donald J. Trump's allegation via Twitter that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private mail server had been compromised by the Chinese government. The official statement, issued by an FBI spokesperson in response to an inquiry by NBC News, simply read, "The FBI has not found any evidence the servers were compromised"—referring to the three email servers used by Clinton during and after her tenure at the US State Department.

Read the rest

What to do when your 5'8" boyfriend insists he is 6 feet tall

Daniel Mallory Ortberg:

A: This is not a situation where you need much of a strategy beyond “acknowledging reality.” Talk to your boyfriend. “Hey, it’s clear that this hits a really deep nerve for you, but I’m not sure why you keep bringing up your height and insisting that you’re 6 feet tall. It was obvious at the doctor’s office that you felt very strongly about hearing your height spoken aloud. What’s going on?” If he wants to talk about his feelings about his height with you, that’s going to be a lot more useful to him than pretending he’s 4 inches taller for the rest of his life.

Ah, but what do to when your 5'11" president insists he is 6'3"?

Trudeau, you see, is standing taller than Trump. Which is difficult to explain when Trudeau is 6″2, and Trump claims to be 6″3. At least, that figure is according to Trump’s physical exam results which were released in January this year by the White House doctor. Other than his lack of exercise, love of junk food and obsession with Diet Coke, Trump was declared to be overall in “excellent health”.

Now, critics are suggesting Trump overestimated his height so his Body Mass Index would be conveniently classified as “overweight”, not “obese”.

White House Photo. Read the rest

Nicaragua's Ortega says everything's fine while protestors continue to die in the street

Are you sitting down? After months of anti-government protests, over 300 civilian deaths and, more recently, the rounding up of protesters and intellectuals who were designated as terrorists or linked to risks to Nicaragua’s sovereignty, the country’s president-cum-dictator Daniel Ortega announced today that he refuses to step down from his post. On the bright side, Ortega told Fox News (the preferred network of dictators and kleptocrats, apparently) that he has fabulous news: the violence that's plagued his nation for months is over! Just like that!

Except, it isn’t.

From CBS News:

Thousands of people marched yesterday in Nicaragua to demand that President Daniel Ortega step down. The demonstrations over proposed benefit cuts, which began three months ago, are expected to continue today.

CBS News correspondent Manuel Bojorquez reports an eerie quiet during much of the day in the capital city of Managua, as people stay home and business owners close up shop for their own safety.

But after the calm, the sounds of protest pierce the air, and the fear of bloody confrontations returns.

Within minutes of arriving in the capital, Bojorquez encountered an anti-government protest and the sound of mortar fire.

It didn’t take long for Bojorquez to find the source of the mortar fire. He spoke with a group of young men who’d DIY’d their mortars, firing them off as a warning that government forces and para-militaries were drawing near. The mortar crews provide the warning with good reason: over the past few weeks, violent attacks against protestors by loyalist paramilitaries and Nicaraguan police have intensified. Read the rest

Florida cop accuses Burger King of putting dirt on his burger. It was seasoning.

Tim McCormick, a cop in Fort Myers, publicly accused a local Burger King of serving him dirt on a burger. But after an investigation, the "dirt" was found to be the burger seasoning.

Fitzpatrick said that after the officers watched the video they determined that nothing inappropriate had happened to the food cooked for McCormick.

So what was it?

As part of the prep process for cooking the meat, Fitzpatrick said, there is a salt and pepper blend applied to the food. He said it is possible that the spice mixture, as well as the flame-broiled grilling process itself, may have left particles the officer thought was dirt.

Also:

McCormick, posting under the Facebook name of Mac O'Durham, added that he noticed that his receipt had block letters with the word POLICE on it, something he said he had never noticed in previous visits.

But the restaurant has more receipts:

"Every one of our guests we ask 'May we have your name to better serve you?'," he said.

In this instance when the server asked McCormick for his name he simply said "officer." When the clerk didn't understand and asked him to repeat his name, McCormick said "police officer."

Christ, what an asshole. Read the rest

Fake reviews now generally necessary to do business online

"The temptation to pose as an impartial reviewer of one’s own work will be familiar to many authors across history, writes Simon Parkin. "But the Internet has, as with all vices, smoothed the transition from temptation to action."

Such self-fluffing is at least supposed to be secret. But the review systems are so crude and easily-gamed that it enables nakedly public manipulation. When The Gamers want to waltz around Amazon's useless "verified purchase" wall to punish a developer for offending them, it's easy...

“People would buy our game, not play it, leave the terrible review, and instantly request a refund,” Sean Vanaman, Campo Santo’s co-founder, told me. “It’s a well-worn tactic.” In his estimation, user-review systems such as those used by Valve, Steam’s developer, are so vulnerable to exploitation that they require as much moderation as social-media platforms.

Worse, without fake positive reviews, your thing -- your book, your restaurant, your startup -- is at a disadvantage in the apps and platforms that potential customers use to scan for new stuff. Once the medium is corrupt, everyone has to follow suit to survive. Get a load of this wonderful nonsense at TripAdvisor:

For the recent test, he created his own fake business, which he called the Shed at Dulwich. (It was named for his garden shed, in Dulwich, London.) He photographed plates of carefully arranged food (created using household products such as shaving cream and dishwasher tablets), bought a burner phone, and added the Shed to the site. Within four weeks, he had posted enough fake reviews to move the spectral establishment into the top two thousand restaurants in London.

Read the rest

The FBI's mountain of uncrackable crimephones was nearly entirely imaginary

The FBI has been trying to ban working cryptography since the Clinton years, a losing battle whose stakes go up with each passing day as the number of devices that depend on working crypto to secure them and their users goes up and up and up. Read the rest

Ikea's Swedish meatballs? Totally NOT Swedish

Here's a fact you can kill with alcohol or a head injury and never miss: Ikea doles out around 2 million of its Swedish meatballs, per day. Here's another: those Swedish meatballs? There's a very good chance that they're not actually Swedish.

According to the Hürriet Daily News, the recipe for Swedish meatballs is actually based on a recipe from Turkey. In a tweet that shook the meat-in-ball-form world, the Swedish government declared that “Swedish meatballs are actually based on a recipe King Charles XII brought home from Turkey in the early 18th century. Let’s stick to the facts!"

From the Hürriet Daily News:

Annie Mattson, a researcher at the literature department of Uppsala University, told Anadoly Agency that Sweden’s King Charles XII lost a battle against Russia and took shelter in Bender, then an Ottoman territory near Moldova.

Having spent a long time in Bender, apparently on a local food bender, Charles XII couldn't bear to leave behind the local cuisine. When he finally headed on home, he came packing the recipes for cabbage rolls, meatballs and, god love him, introduced Turkey's national love for strong, hot coffee to the Swedish people.

Earlier today, The Guardian got their meat hooks on this story and added to it. Apparently, feelings on the revelation, in Turkey are mixed.

This week in Turkey’s meatball capital, Inegöl, a local chef, İbrahim Veysel, told the Dogan news agency it was an honor that the Turkish dish should have become “an example to different cuisines all over the world”.

Read the rest

How to do smokey eye as well as Sarah Huckabee Sanders

After Michelle Wolf made fun of Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the courtiers of the White House press corps, there was much anguish and gnashing of teeth. Beyond a heightened awareness of how servile and sad the American political press is, though, not much good's come out of it. The best is surely Laura Hudson's (previously) guide to doing Smokey Eye makeup, an art that Sanders is as accomplished at as she is at lying.

This may come as a surprise, but it does not mean that Sanders applied eyeshadow to herself like a 19th century chimney sweep rubbing her eyes. A smoky eye is a complex, elegant makeup technique that is difficult to execute well without copious practice, and saying that someone nailed it is no small compliment. Fortunately for the uninitiated, there are many, many YouTube tutorials from beauty experts that can help explain it in more detail! After reviewing a few of my favorites, I’ve put together a quick guide on how to achieve the classic look that Sanders so often wears to press briefings

Read the rest

"Secret family recipes" mostly plagiarised

Perhaps mom still has a twinkle in her eye when she makes pancakes with that special ingredient, coyly hidden from you since early childhood, a ritual that speaks to a parent's enduring love, the small things that return us to the best moments of our youth and reify the bonds of family.

Perhaps dad still talks in hushed terms about the family ragu, passed down from generation to generation since the days of the old country, a secret to be earned, cementing centuries of careful experimentation in tomato and wine, drawing one's soul back into the collective warmth of an ethnic milieu often forgotten in the relentless yet blandly anglosaxon routines of American life.

Fuckin' liars got it from a cookbook.

In response to our call, 174 readers wrote in with stories of plagiarized family recipes. Hailing from New York to Nicaragua, from Auckland, New Zealand, to Baghpat, India, they prove that this is a global phenomenon. The majority of readers described devastating discoveries: They found supposedly secret recipes in the pages of famous cookbooks, and heard confessions from parents whose legendary dessert recipes came from the side of Karo Syrup bottles.

Read the rest

Yet again, Kellyanne Conway violates Federal ethics rules

The Office of the Special Counsel, a Federal ethics watchdog agency, has once again found Kellyanne Conway in violation of the Hatch Act.

In publicly supporting child molester Roy Moore from the White House lawn and using her government job title, in a harsh political attack on his opponent, Conway broke ethics rules over using a government office for political ends. Conway will of course claim she did not do any of these things by pointing out in fact that she did do all them several times.

The OSC has sent information surrounding her offense to the Trump Administration that will probably reprimand her with a large bonus and champagne lunch.

Via NPR:

"While the Hatch Act allows federal employees to express their views about candidates and political issues as private citizens, it restricts employees from using their official government positions for partisan political purposes, including by trying to influence partisan elections," the agency's report says. "Ms. Conway's statements during the Fox & Friends and New Day interviews impermissibly mixed official government business with political views about candidates in the Alabama special election for U.S. Senate."

The agency says Conway never responded to its inquiries and says that it has submitted its report to the president for "appropriate disciplinary action." Because Conway is a high-ranking presidential appointee, it's up to Trump to decide what action is appropriate.

The White House pushed back on the report and argued Conway did not advocate for or against a candidate in the Alabama race.

Read the rest

Man claims to have been beaten up by savage feminists at the Women's March

One Steamelmo of House Imgur posted this exchange, with a twitterer who alleges a brutal womanhandling at this weekend's Women's March.

The OP has locked down their twitter account, but the replies remain:

If it is perhaps faked, console yourself with this picture of a man slathered in jam. [via]

Read the rest

Video of 10 hours of white noise has 5 copyright claims

Sebastian Tomczak, who blogs his fascination with sound and technology at little-scale.blogspot.com, reports that "My ten hour white noise video now has five copyright claims!"

The culprit appears to be YouTube's hapless and hostile contentID system, which automatically matches portions of different videos, makes stupid conclusions about intellectual property, then invites corporate customers to "claim" and monetize other people's work as their own.

Owning white noise today are "White Noise Sleep Therapy", "El Muelle Records", "Rachel Conwell" and "Silent Knights." Read the rest

Trump now privately denies authenticity of the Access Hollywood tape

The New York Times reports Orange Julius now denies the Access Hollywood tapes are legit. The gaslighting of America continues...

Via NYT:

But something deeper has been consuming Mr. Trump. He sees the calls for Mr. Moore to step aside as a version of the response to the now-famous “Access Hollywood” tape, in which he boasted about grabbing women’s genitalia, and the flood of groping accusations against him that followed soon after. He suggested to a senator earlier this year that it was not authentic, and repeated that claim to an adviser more recently. (In the hours after it was revealed in October 2016, Mr. Trump acknowledged that the voice was his, and he apologized.)

Read the rest

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