Frontier: if you don't buy your router, we'll charge you a rental fee; if you DO buy your router, we'll charge you a "support" fee

Frontier bought out Verizon's FIOS business in Texas, California, and Florida; some of Verizon's (former) customers had shelled out $200 to buy their routers rather than endure the indignity of being charged a monthly rental fee by Verizon -- but now, Frontier is charging them a rental fee even though they're not renting a router. Frontier says that this is because supporting third-party hardware costs them so much that they have to charge a fee to recoup it. Read the rest

Houston! Come see Hank Green and me on July 31

I'm coming to Houston on July 31 to appear with Hank Green at an event for the paperback launch of his outstanding debut novel An Absolutely Remarkable Thing: we're on a 7PM at Spring Forest Middle School (14240 Memorial Drive, Houston, TX 77079); it's a ticketed event and the ticket price includes a copy of Hank's book. Hope to see you there! (Images: Vlogbrothers, Jonathan Worth, CC-BY) Read the rest

Texas Instrument's post-#taxscam budget for financial engineering is $5B -- triple its budget for actual engineering

The Trump #taxscam was supposed to create jobs by handing $1 trillion in cuts to multinational corporations and one percenters, who, we were promised, would put that money into R&D, business development, and other job-creating initiatives. Read the rest

LED traffic sign in Texas displays witty warnings of global warming

While some who saw this variable message sign in Houston though it had been hacked, it's actually a roadside art installation by Brooklyn artist Justin Brice Guariglia. Read the rest

Brass knuckles are now legal in Texas

Texas governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law "relating to the criminal consequences of engaging in certain conduct with respect certain instruments designed, made, or adapted for use in striking a person with a fist." The law strikes "knuckles" from a list of prohibited weapons that a person can't "intentionally or knowingly possesses, manufactures, transports, repairs, or sells."

The Texas Penal Code defines "knuckles" in this context as "any instrument that consists of finger rings or guards made of a hard substance and that is designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting serious bodily injury or death by striking a person with a fist enclosed in the knuckles."

From CNN:

Rep. Joe Moody, a Democratic legislator from El Paso who sponsored the bill told the Texas Standard... "A young woman who has a keychain for self defense, certainly fits the statute of knuckles. And she was arrested for that."

Supporters of the bill argued "knuckles are primarily a defensive tool," the summary says, and shouldn't be associated with "explosive weapons, machine guns, and other prohibited weapons."

The law comes after lawmakers previously removed switchblades from that same banned list in 2013.

"Law abiding Texans who carry knuckles, perhaps as part of a novelty key chain, should not be vulnerable to jail time for possessing a legitimate self defense tool," the summary says.

"It's now legal to carry brass knuckles in Texas. Because, 'self-defense'" (CNN)

image: uncredited via Wikipedia Read the rest

The awful true story of Diana Jean Heaney, and the "hitchhike slaying"

Burbank librarian Sarah McKinley Oakes (proprietor of the excellent Remains of LA blog, which reviews all of LA's surviving grand old restaurants and dives) uses her excellent librarian skills to take a deep dive into the tragic tale of Diana Jean Heaney, whose first mention in print was in a 1947 article on the notorious "Black Dahlia" murder, but only to mention that Heaney was definitely not a victim of the same murderer. Read the rest

Houston! I'm at Comicpalooza all weekend!

I'm one of the guests of honor at this weekend's Comicpalooza festival in Houston, Texas: in addition to my keynote and signing, you can catch me at panels on copyright, robots and AI, cyberpunk, copyright (again!). Read the rest

Halifax! I'm speaking at Atlseccon on April 24 (then Toronto, Ottawa, Berlin and Houston!)

I'm coming to Halifax to give the closing keynote on day one of Atlseccon on April 24th: it's only my second-ever visit to the city and the first time I've given a talk there, so I really hope you can make it! Read the rest

Texas lawmakers want Death Penalty for women who get abortions

They're pro-life, you see.

Beto O'Rourke was in the Cult of the Dead Cow and his t-files are still online

Investigative tech journalist Joseph Menn's (previously) next book is a history of the Cult of the Dead Cow (previously) the legendary hacker/prankster group that is considered to be "America's oldest hacking group." Read the rest

Where to catch me this weekend at SXSW

I'm heading back to Austin for the SXSW Interactive festival and you can catch me three times this weekend: first on the Untold AI panel with Malka Older, Rashida Richardson and Christopher Noessel (5-6PM, Fairmont Manchester AB); then at the EFF Austin Party with Cindy Cohn and Bruce Sterling (7PM, 1309 Bonham Terrace); and on Sunday, I'm giving a keynote for Berlin's Re:Publica conference, which has its own track at SXSW; I'm speaking about Europe's new Copyright Directive and its dread Article 13 at 1PM at Buffalo Billiards, 201 East 6th Street. Read the rest

Trump Border Wall: Texans vow to fight eminent domain, historic chapel threatened

Donald Trump's border wall vs. the historic La Lomita church in Texas, which dates back to 1852.

Texas indicts '3D gun guy' Cody Wilson for child sexual assault, 'Defense Distributed' founder faces 20 years in prison

Wow, never saw that one coming. The print your own guns proponent is a creep.

In Texas, '3D gun' guy Cody Wilson has been indicted on multiple counts of sexual assault against a minor. Read the rest

Artist lovingly paints Texas fast food joints in Kinkade-esque scenery

San Antonio artist Michael Esparza's oil paintings put Texas-based fast food restaurants in the center of bucolic landscapes. It's hard not to compare his work to Thomas Kinkade's but that's the point. (The main difference, imo, is that Esparza's pieces are actually palatable.)

Texas Monthly:

The idea for the series, which Esparza describes as “a little bit Bob Ross and a little bit Thomas Kinkade,” came to him 2012, just after he came back to Texas from a year of studying art in Italy. In Italy, nothing was built taller than a church, so it was a shock when Esparza returned to San Antonio, the size of roadside signs were particularly jarring. “I was just seeing how iconic they are, but also from the Italian perspective, how ridiculous they are. From that point of view, it’s like, ‘What are you doing, Texas? What’s going on with these big signs that you have on the side of the road?'” he says. “But the first thing I did when I got back from Italy was I went to Whataburger, and then right after that, I went to Bill Miller’s. I just needed a burger, and I needed a po’ boy. I was already full after Whataburger, but I didn’t care.” Esparza says he wants the paintings to evoke the sense of homecoming you feel when you see those signs after spending time in a place where they don’t exist—be it Italy or elsewhere. “They become your own little beacons for where you live,” he explains.

Read the rest

Syndicated columnist censored for writing about the risks of hedge funds and billionaires buying papers

Jim Hightower is a longstanding, respected columnist distributed by Creators Syndicate -- but Creators refused to distribute his latest column, "Free the Free Press from Wall Street Plunderers," which warns about Wall Street vultures like Digital First Media and GateHouse Media buying up newspapers, including the Austin Statesman. Read the rest

My life on the road: watching life roll by from the corner of my eye

Two days of waiting in Casper, Wyoming, $1,200 and two new tires later, we were back on the road. Casper is a small city. It is one of Wyoming's most populated cities. It is a city flanked by mountains and, while we were being held captive by a blown out tire on a holiday weekend, a miserably cold, humid city.

It was a city we were happy to leave.

The man who taught me how to fight once told me that the only thing worse than getting punched is waiting to get punched. This holds true for many things in life. As my wife wheeled us back onto the Interstate, headed south, there was a tension in the air between us. We did not speak. We did little else but listen. Would the rest of our tires prove sound? Was there any indication that they might blow like one of our outer duelies had? When the next blow-out happens would it be one of our steer-tires? How fucked or dead would we be? The answer to this last question: pretty fucked and, depending on the speed we'd be traveling at when the blow-out hit, pretty dead.

Both of us were wondering these things. Neither of us talked about it until after we had stopped for the night.

Long distance trips can be full of new foods and interesting people that make for fond memories. More often, you're left to contend with hours of a ribbon of road cut through the plains mountains and dead towns that lost their vibrance years before you were born. Read the rest

Newly divorced woman blows up her wedding dress

Simply setting fire to her wedding dress wouldn't do for Kimberly Santleben-Stiteler. The newly divorced woman from outside San Antonio, Texas (shocker!) attached 20 pounds of Tannerite to the dress and created an explosive target. In front of family and friends, she shot the dress from 200 yards away, creating a fireball and explosion that was heard for miles.

Santleben-Stiteler plans on selling her wedding ring. Sorry, demolition fans.

Via Star-Telegram Read the rest

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