Seattle spends five years failing to come up with a privacy policy for its $3.6m surveillance network, then spends $150k ripping it out

Five years after activists forced Seattle's mayor to return the city's surveillance drones to their manufacturer, the city has announced that it is terminating its warrantless mass-surveillance program altogether. Read the rest

Here's an amazing three-year timelapse of Seattle shot from atop the Space Needle

Since January 2015, the high-def 360 panoramic webcam on top of the Space Needle has been consistently capturing images every ten minutes of Seattle. Ricardo Martin Brualla took that footage and made this super-groovy timelapse video.

He explains his process in depth on Hackernoon:

I started with two full panoramas a day for the last two years, more than 2000 panos. Then, the sequence was stabilized, as the camera shakes and moves over time, either by being knocked, or because of the wind and other forces of nature. The final step was to smooth temporally the sequence, to remove the variation due to weather and lighting conditions.

Also, he's created a bunch of GIFs that highlight some of the cooler parts of the video (like the one below). Be sure to check them out.

(Sploid) Read the rest

There's a librarian action figure in the likeness of a real librarian

The rise of the Information Age has put librarians in more demand than ever, according to this recent article in the Wall Street Journal.

It simply makes sense that a librarian action figure would pop into the market, tiny red cape and all. This one is particularly special because it's fashioned after a real hero, librarian Nancy Pearl of Seattle, Washington.

You can pick one up over at Archie McPhee for $9.95. Read the rest

Seattle's Nazi tech-bros' plan: infiltrate tech industry, hire white supremacists

The Stranger's David Lewis snuck into the Northwest Forum, a s00per s33kr1t Nazi gathering in Seattle, and attended the speeches, including the keynote by reclusive white supremacist leader Dr Greg Johnson. Read the rest

Coming to Seattle: fact-checking workshop with legendary researcher Lisa Gold

Lisa Gold is the extraordinary researcher who is perhaps best know for her work with Neal Stephenson, particularly on the Baroque Trilogy. Read the rest

A few tickets left for tonight's event in Seattle! (then Bellingham, Vancouver, Burbank...) (!)

We had a fabulous time last night at Portland's Powell's City of Books and now I'm on the runway to fly up to Seattle for tonight's event at the Neptune Theater with Neal Stephenson (it's not too late to get tickets!) -- then tomorrow I'll be at Bellingham's Village Books before heading to the Vancouver Writers' Festival. Read the rest

See you tonight at Powell's, Portland! (then Seattle, Bellingham, Vancouver...) (!)

Yesterday's Walkaway event at San Diego's Mysterious Galaxy was terrific (there was birthday cake) and now I'm flying to Portland for an event at Powell's City of Books tonight with Andy "Waxy" Baio before heading to Seattle for an event with Neal Stephenson at the Neptune Theater, then a stop in Bellingham's Village Books. Read the rest

Uber threatens to leave Seattle if drivers can unionize; drivers rejoice

The City of Seattle voted to allow Uber drivers to form a union, and Uber says that if its court challenge to the rule is unsuccessful, it might leave Seattle. Read the rest

Uber uses its in-app podcasts to broadcast anti-union messages to drivers

The City of Seattle says it will let Uber drivers form a union, and Uber has retaliated by producing a series of anti-union audio programs that it is pushing to Uber drivers' apps, where the programs light up a non-dismissable alert asking the drivers to listen to the program. Read the rest

Washington data scientists: a chance to figure out how to use your skills for good

A pair of data-scientists in Washington State are convening a meeting of "Data Scientists, Data Science Enthusiasts, and Advocates for Civic Liberties and Social Justice" who want to figure out how "Data Scientists & IT Professionals use their expertise to help answer the current human questions which social and policy-based organizations are currently struggling to address?" Read the rest

Dad joke turns into a Hugh Mungus meme

Depending on whom you ask, a crazy lady got bent out of shape over a dad joke, or a pro-cop token sexually harassed a peaceful protester. Below are both versions of this modern-day Rashomon. Like Harambe, the Hugh Mungus meme works for all political persuasions.

(image: Block The Bunker Facebook event)

Background:

Seattle held raucous City Council meetings over plans to build an expensive new police precinct opponents call "The Bunker." Emotions ran high. This much everyone agrees on.

During the chaos, local news teams were interviewing attendees, including resident Rudy Pantoja. Pantoja expressed appreciation and support for the police, who had helped his daughter get help with her personal and legal problems. Protester Zarna Joshi felt the press was not covering the event proportionally, and began to film Pantoja's interview to show that his views were not representative of the protesters. After the interview, Pantoja saw Joshi was filming him. What happens next is an Abbott and Costello routine for the modern era. The transcript below honors Pantoja's nom de guerre, "Hugh Mungus."

Read the rest

Homeless in Seattle: five essays

Peter Wieben's five-part series on homelessness in Seattle doesn't try to capture any kind of overarching truth or objective stock-taking of the problem (Seattle is now notorious for its tent cities). Rather, it consists of a series of sharply observed, dryly recounted personal stories from the people he meets, which range from heartbreaking to infuriating.

The conversion of shelter into an asset class has incentivized local governments to make it more expensive, which is a disaster for nearly everyone, except literal rentiers. Combine that with the recasting of poverty as a moral failing and the disappearance of stable employment opportunities and you're well on the way to turning cities into armed standoffs between the fingernail-clinging haves and the have-nots, whose misery only serves to spur the haves to cling harder.

Wieben beautifully captures the difficulty of confronting homelessness in all our lives: the combination of mistrust and sympathy, empathy and helplessness, frustration and affection.

You’d Have to be Crazy (Part I) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]

You’d Have to be Crazy (Part II) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]

You’d Have to be Crazy (Part III) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]

You’d Have to be Crazy (Part IV) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]

You’d Have to be Crazy (Part V) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]

(via Metafilter) Read the rest

Smart-meter vendor says that if we know how their system works, the terrorists will win

Phil Mocek filed a public records request to find out how Seattle's new smart meters -- supplied by Landis and Gyr -- will work. As Mocek writes, these meters are based on "unspecified and unverifiable sensors that monitor activity inside of private property and can communicate collected information in real-time to unspecified machines in remote locations, the workings of which are obscured from ratepayers, with interfaces used by [the city] that require specialized equipment and are thus completely unavailable to ratepayers for personal use or monitoring and verification of information communicated, is already shrouded in secrecy and seemingly proceeding despite repeated voicing of public concern and complete lack of public justification of expense." Read the rest

Today is the deadline to nominate for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame

Vote for your favorite "Creation" and "Creator." (Disclosure: I'm a volunteer on this year's jury) (via IO9) Read the rest

Uber uses customer service reps to push anti-union message to drivers

Once Seattle became the first city where Uber drivers were allowed to unionize, the drivers started getting "customer service" calls that polled them on their satisfaction with the company, while ham-handedly pushing anti-union messages. Read the rest

TSA screener insists that full-body screening is mandatory

Sai, who is seeking an injunction against the TSA's new mandatory full-body screening test (but only for people they don't like), flew out of SEA-TAC on Dec 31 and was told that the full-body scanner was mandatory. Read the rest

Come see me tonight in Seattle!

I'm reading from the novel I just finished (Utopia) and then being interviewed by Geekwire's Frank Catalano. Read the rest

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