Watch the UK's Brexit negotiator explain his frank realization that Britain is an island

"I hadn't quite understood the full extent of this," Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Dominic Raab said, "but if you look at the UK and you look at how we trade in goods, we're particularly reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing." [via James Felton]

Raab hopes to find a "bespoke arrangement" which "recognizes the peculiar, frankly, geographic economic entity that is the United Kingdom."

Islands, Dominic. They're called islands.

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Park ruined by giant always-on TV screen

The problem with "privately-owned public spaces" is that the right of access and enjoyment is easy to subvert or poison by the owner, making clear that they're really just publicly-zoned private spaces. Read the rest

Washington Examiner's twitter account: Trump going to hell

They surely got hacked, but some of those guys are on the strong stuff and you just never know what happens when you mix high-proof conservatism with Jesus and give everyone unlimited access to the Twitter account.

Update: The Examiner said their feed was hacked and a tweet was posted that did not come from our staff. Read the rest

Can you see the penis character 𓂸 found hiding in the Egyptian hieroglyphics unicode block?

There are three Egyptian hieroglyphs depicting penises, each with Unicode characters: 𓂸𓂹 𓂺 Amazingly, no-one seems to know about them despite their being among the most succinct and obviously useful glyphs in the standard. The RealRevK reports:

They are rather innocuously named U+130B8: EGYPTIAN HIEROGLYPH D052, U+130B9: EGYPTIAN HIEROGLYPH D052A, and U+130BA: EGYPTIAN HIEROGLYPH D053.

I cannot actually work out what the middle one is meant to be doing, to be honest. Looks painful.

Someone will no doubt explain to me that in fact that is not what the hieroglyph is and that I just have a dirty mind, but if that were true, why are they apparently censored in some fonts?

Many unicode characters fail to attract use simply because they aren't present in any common fonts. The penis unicode characters render for me on MacOS Mojave Firefox and Safari, but disappear in Chrome. Are you seeing it on your system? Are they missing or conspicuosly "censored"? Tell us in the comments!

UPDATE: WordPress's "Tags" panel automatically bowdlerizes a single penis by turning it into the 👍 emoji, but left dual penises unmolested. Read the rest

Food magazine editor resigns after joking about "killing vegans, one by one".

William Sitwell, editor of UK grocery chain Waitrose's in-house magazine, has resigned after calling for the killing of vegans. He was responding sarcastically to a pitch from freelance writer Selene Nelson, and Nelson collapsed his context.

Nelson, who writes about food and travel, had suggested ideas on "healthy, eco-friendly meals" as "popularity of the movement is likely to continue to skyrocket".

Sitwell had emailed back 10 minutes later, saying: "Thanks for this. How about a series on killing vegans, one by one. Ways to trap them? How to interrogate them properly? Expose their hypocrisy? Force-feed them meat?" He also suggested making them eat steak and drink red wine, with Nelson responding: "I'm certainly interested in exploring why just the mention of veganism seems to make some people so hostile".

Waitrose is a very British institution: superficially upscale but with plenty of cheap stuff lurking in the aisles to help middle-class snobs keep up appearances.

It's no wonder an editor of its food magazine would let slip some jocular contempt for specialized cuisine or minority tastes – or that he'd have no idea that he is in fact the easy meat. Read the rest

Porno malware infestation hits U.S. Geological Survey

A single smut-addicted official at the US Geological Survey led to an IT crisis there, according to an official report, with visits to more than 9000 porny URLs resulting in a malware infestation. The recommendations? Filter the web, and plug those damned USB ports.

Correction: More than 9000 sites, not 9000 infections. Read the rest

Disturbing, uncloseable, emotionally manipulative advertising infests childrens' apps

The New York Times reports that apps intended for children are "crammed" with ads, many of them disturbing, inappropriate and effectively impossible to dismiss.

Dancing treasure chests would give young players points for watching video ads, potentially endlessly. The vast majority of ads were not marked at all. Characters in children’s games gently pressured the kids to make purchases, a practice known as host-selling, banned in children’s TV programs in 1974 by the Federal Trade Commission. At other times an onscreen character would cry if the child did not buy something.

“The first word that comes to mind is furious,” said Dr. Radesky, an assistant professor of developmental behavioral pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School. “I’m a researcher. I want to stay objective. We started this study really just trying to look at distraction. My frustrated response is about all the surprising, potentially deceptive stuff we found.”

95 percent of the tested apps marketed for kids under 5 had these ads in them. It's not a trend, or even the norm: it's the nature of the business of childrens' apps. It's been this way for years: here's a 2015 story from The Guardian about explicit sex ads in childrens' apps.

A company promoting sexual liaisons using pictures of a naked woman has been reprimanded for running ads in a children’s smartphone game. The Advertising Standards Authority received complaints from parents after they discovered their children had seen the explicit ads, which included the line “wanna fuck?”, within the My Talking Tom app.

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How long will it take my baby son to defeat the Strong Suction Silicone Plate?

We bought the QShare Strong Suction Silicone Baby Plate from Amazon. This product promises to remain affixed to any plastic, metal or other smooth surface no matter how hard a youngster tugs at it. In preliminary testing, we noticed that it was secure when pulled, but that it could be peeled up at the edges.

So after serving up Alfy's dinner and placing him in his high chair, we trained a camera on him to see how long it would take him to defeat the Strong Suction Silicone Baby Plate—if at all. Read the rest

You can buy used voting machines on eBay, complete with election data

$100 or so a pop. Here's a nice up-to-date Diebold machine. And here's a stack of the voter access cards that go with them. Brian Varner reports on how much can be learned from such items.

The hard drives had not been wiped. The information I found on the drives, including candidates, precincts, and the number of votes cast on the machine, were not encrypted. Worse, the “Property Of” government labels were still attached, meaning someone had sold government property filled with voter information and location data online, at a low cost, with no consequences. It would be the equivalent of buying a surplus police car with the logos still on it.

Even current models are shot through with comically obvious vulnerabilities--exposed USB ports, insecure smart card readers, operating systems that haven't been updated in 5 years--that aren't present in, say, ATMs made by the same companies. Sadly, the circles in the venn diagram marked "people with the power to fix this" and "people who want to fix this" do not overlap. Read the rest

Facebook hires Nick Clegg, British politician who annihilated his own party, as new global affairs chief

Nick Clegg's leadership of the UK's Liberal Democrats brought it briefly into the halls of power only to be destroyed by political incompetence and ambitious indifference. He started out commanding a quarter of the popular vote in a three-party system and left it with just 8 MPs, marginalized for a generation. Let's hope he can do the same thing for Facebook as their Head of Global Affairs.

Facebook has hired Nick Clegg, the former UK deputy prime minister, to head its global affairs and communications team as it faces escalating problems over data protection and the threat of greater government regulation.

Mr Clegg, 51, will move to Silicon Valley in January to succeed Elliot Schrage, who announced he would leave Facebook after 10 years in June.

His recruitment will be as much of a surprise to the British political establishment as it will be to Silicon Valley, where few European politicians enjoy a high profile in the insular tech industry.

"Months of wooing by Mark Zuckerberg," the Financial Times says, but you may recall this recent licking of the boot from Clegg, who just last month called criticism of Facebook "outright Luddism."

Mark Zuckerberg et al are regularly criticised for not doing enough to stop fake news and extremism, and doing too much to mine our data for the benefit of advertisers, but a threat to the continued existence of humankind? Hardly. ... It’s time we pause for breath before everyone charges off in a stampede of condemnation of tax-dodging-fake-news-extremism-promoting-data-controlling tech firms.

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Halloween-themed hamburger promises to give you nightmares

A top burger chain promises that its new burger will "give you nightmares". It's putting out a 2-minute ad showing actors submitting to a sleep study after devouring a seasonally-themed sandwich, then reporting the night-time horrors that resulted.

Here's the ad:

"The burger in my dream transformed into the figure of a snake," one reports.

Fox 8 News:

A new ad shows participants hooked up to sleep monitoring machines after eating the burger. Per USA Today, the incidence of nightmares increased 3.5 times over the normal rate, apparently due to various proteins. “I remember hearing voices and people walking around talking,” one participant says, per People.

Quite a risky campaign in the country where significant numbers of people think vaccines cause autism, that chemtrails are sterilizing us, that Jews have tails, etc. Read the rest

Lawsuit: "pivoting to video" was a disaster led by Facebook's cooked viewing data

Several years ago media sites began firing writers en-masse to hire video people instead, because Facebook and other social media companies told them that this was the future. "Pivoting to video," some called it. But what Facebook actually delivered was "fraudulent" analytics. Advertisers slowly figured out the videos weren't being watched. Facebook lied about it for a while. Then it apparently admitted it. Then the media sites started firing the video people too.

Here's an excerpt from a lawsuit unsealed yesterday, posted to Twitter by Jason Kint, the CEO of an online publishers' trade group.

63. In June 2016, a Facebook engineering manager finally followed up on advertiser complaints dating back to early 2015, writing that "[s]omehow there was no progress on the task for a year." But even once it was decided to take action on the metrics, Facebook did not promptly fix its calculation or disclose that the calculation was wrong. Instead, it continued reporting miscalculated viewership metrics for another several months, as it developed a "no PR" strategy to avoid drawing attention to the error. The company decided to "obfuscate the fact that we screwed up the math" by quietly retiring the erroneous metrics and replacing them with corrected metrics under a new name. For instance, Average Duration of Video Viewed would be replaced with Average Watch Time.

64. In August 2016, Facebook began reaching out privately to select, large advertisers, telling them that Facebook had "recently discovered a discrepancy" in the video ad average view metrics.

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Red Delicious, that most vile breed of Apple, no longer America's favorite

The Red Delicious—picture-perfect on the outside but mealy, clammy, fleshy yet flavorless within—is no longer America's favorite apple. The Gala overtook it, and hopefully the noble Granny Smith will further dethrone it soon.

Red Delicious’ slippage will be mourned by few. As Sarah Yager wrote in the Atlantic in a history of the variety a few years ago, the Red Delicious is a “paradox”: “alluring yet undesirable, the most produced and arguably the least popular apple in the United States.” They’re gorgeous to look at, like a cartoon apple landed in your real-life fruit bowl. It has a deep-red color and perfectly unblemished skins; its bodies always taper to a perfect little five-pointed bottom. But its flesh tastes—as the two enthusiasts who run the apple fan website Orange Pippin write—too sweet, “like a slightly over-ripe melon”; also, “the skin can be quite tough.” In understated tones, Orange Pippin’s expert apple-tasters add: “Overall Red Delicious can be quite a refreshing apple to eat, but its chief characteristic is that it has almost no flavor at all.”

The Red Delicious is the perfect symbol of American culture. Its attractive surface doesn't just hide the rot beneath, it tells you up front how great it tastes.

Previously in the disgusting Red Delicious apple:

How the worst apple took over the United States, and continues to spreadWhy the disgusting Red Delicious apple rules American grocery storesWhy the most horrible apple in the world is also the most grown\

Photo: Zajac (CC) Read the rest

Intel accused of commissioning rigged CPU benchmarks

Intel reportedly published rigged benchmarks designed to make its new i9 chips look better than the competition, while holding tech media to an embargo on publishing reviews or independent tests.

Intel — or to be precise, a company Intel hired to create a whitepaper on Core i9 gaming performance — has crossed that line. According to Forbes, Intel contracted with Principled Technologies to distribute a whitepaper containing various claims about gaming performance between Intel’s upcoming Core i9-9900K and Core i7-8700K and the AMD Threadripper 2990WX, 2950X, and Ryzen 7 2700XSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce. With AMD having surged into competitive positioning in the past 18 months and Intel taking heat from its 10nm delays, Chipzilla has every reason to push a narrative that puts it in the driving seat of gaming. But Intel is using this whitepaper to claim that it’s up to 50 percent faster than AMD in gaming based on Ashes of the Singularity in particular, and that’s where the problems start. The Intel results are somewhat higher than we’d expect, but the AMD CPUs — particularly the Ryzen 7 2700X — are crippled.

The wheeze, as described, is simple enough: the AMD-based test rig was thrown together with stock parts and inappropriate software settings, whereas the Intel system was rigorously customized and optimized, with this fancypants $70 cooling fan installed. Then they restricted tests to settings and resolutions that favor Intel's chips.

Intel seems to be in more trouble than it's been in for years. As for the press, when we honor embargos after finding another source for the news or finding out that it's bullshit, it's not really an embargo: it's just an NDA, and we're doing PR work for free. Read the rest

Embezzler very sorry

Pure excitement last night from Pittsburgh's WPXI, which devoted several minutes to covering a local man accused of pocketing more than $3,000 from the store where he worked, in small amounts, over a long period of time. I can't remember his name, occupation or the outcome of the investigation, but love that the TV station thought "Very Sorry" to be worthy of a bulletpoint.

Which it is. Read the rest

Oil refinery explosion was "Thanksgiving miracle", says newspaper owned by family that owns the refinery

The Telegraph-Journal is a newspaper in New Brunswick, Canada. It is owned by the Irvings, among Canada's richest industrialists. Yesterday, an oil refinery owned by the Irvings exploded. Here's how the Telegraph-Journal covered it. [via]

Today I learned that yesterday was Thanksgiving in Canada. Read the rest

Something Awful receives legal threat over hotlinked image of Hitler fan

Christopher Sadowski is, his lawyers submit, a most accomplished photographer of... Hitler admirer Heath Campbell? The New York-based shooter is threatening to sue the website Something Awful over a photo of the nazi spotted in its forums unless they pay $6750.

The unauthorized use of my client's work threatens my client's livelihood. While Christopher Sadowski,[sic] does have the right to bring a lawsuit for damages, my client is willing to settle this in an amicable way, out of court and without a lawsuit. I was asked to contact you and see if we can negotiate a settlement and save everyone the stress and costs of going to court.

It turns out, however, that the image isn't actually posted on Something Awful. It's hotlinked from another website, Imgur, which is the image's actual host and the one providing the embedding snippet. It's still there. Sadowski's lawyers, Higbee & Associates, haven't figured it out—or maybe they have, but removing the image isn't the business plan.

Rich Kyanka (pictured above) explains:

This garbage dicked law firm generates nearly $5 million a year by encouraging photographers to sign up with their company, then performing a reverse image search for anything matching their client's submitted photos. An automated system then flags the suspected offending site, spits out a super scary legal threat based off a template, and delivers it to the site owner. Upon receiving the notice of possible legal action, many victims freak out and pay these idiots the stated arbitrary amount of cash, under the looming threat of being taken to court for $150,000.

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