The wonderful history of Troll Dolls

To mark last week's release of the new Trolls World Tour movie, Smithsonian's Michelle Delgado tells the origin story of Troll Dolls, from their birth following World War II their modern day big screen revival. The tale begins in Gjøl, Denmark, home to baker Thomas Dam (1915-1989) who could no longer work when the local flour factory went out of business. From Smithsonian:

Dam would sit near the fireplace, carving bits of wood while he thought. He often carved funny creatures to entertain his children, and eventually, his wife persuaded him to try selling the figurines. Dam packed up as many as he could carry and traveled to Aalborg, the nearest city, where he planned to knock on doors. He came home empty-handed, having successfully sold them all.

As Dam’s figurines found fans in Aalborg, customers began commissioning bigger projects. Before long, Dam became a working sculptor whose reputation eventually exceeded Denmark’s borders. In 1956, a Swedish department store hired him to create a large sculpture of Santa Claus, kicking off the chain of events that nudged Dam to fully embrace toy making.

When he finished installing the Santa Claus sculpture, Dam realized that it wasn’t completely visible from the street. He proposed an accompanying window display with a clever design. First, he sculpted tiny figures of Christmas elves—designed in a similar style to his soon-to-be-famous troll dolls—and dismantled a mattress, hiding a spring in each figurine’s body. Next, Dam built a display with a mechanism that lifted and dropped a long piece of wood.

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Martin Shkreli's appeal denied

Martin Shkreli, trollish ex-CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, who became infamous in 2015 when he jacked up the price of an HIV medication 5,000%, received some unpleasant news today, reports CNBC. The Supreme Court rejected his request for an appeal of his securities fraud conviction. That means he's going to have to serve the rest of his 7-year sentence and forfeit his $6.4 million fine.

While his fraud case was pending, Shkreli won the hearts of Trumpsters when he put a bounty on a strand of hair from Hillary Clinton's head. His tweet did not get his desired result, though. Instead, the judge revoked his bail and locked him behind bars for the remainder of the trial.

Image: House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform - https://oversight.house.gov/hearing/developments-in-the-prescription-drug-market-oversight/, Public Domain, Link Read the rest

T-Mobile: because we have a (stupid) trademark on one magenta shade, no one can use pink in their logos

T-Mobile has a trademark on RAL 4010, a shade of magenta. Trademarks on colors (see also: UPS, John Deere) are a dangerous trend, robbing us of the spectrum one shade at a time, but T-Mobile's views on its trademark made this bad situation much worse. Read the rest

The inspiring story of how Cloudflare defeated a patent troll and broke the patent-trolling business-model

In 2016, Cloudflare was targeted by a notorious patent troll called Blackbird Technologies; rather than capitulate, the company set up a fund called "Project Jengo" to pay bounties to researchers who documented prior art that could be used to invalidate the patent in question -- and all of Blackbird's patents, and began to file to have additional patents invalidated based on that crowdsourced research. Read the rest

"Troll Factory" games teaches you how fake news is spread - and why

Troll Factory is an entertaining online edugame that shows you how disinformation merchants infiltrate social media and spread their corrosive anti-democracy propaganda.

Yle's Troll Factory game asks you to imagine you are a professional troll who tries to amass influence in social media by spreading fear, bias and suspicion using botnets, paid marketing and internet memes. The game combines authentic social media content with game-like simulation that's personalised based on the user's choices.

Fake news, hate speech and conspiracy theories spread in Facebook, Instagram and Youtube. The big internet behemoths can't stop this from happening. So it's becoming increasingly hard for people to notice when they share, comment or like something inaccurate online -- even unintentionally.

"We decided to turn the whole fake news problem upside down. What if you became an actual troll to understand the motives and intentions behind today's information wars?" says Jarno M. Koponen who's leading the project for the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle's News Lab in Helsinki.

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CN Tower's management company claims that any picture of the landmark building is a trademark violation

The CN Tower is a giant radio antenna and tourist attraction on Toronto's lakeshore; it's an iconic part of the city's skyline, and has been since it was built at taxpayer expense; today, it's owned by a Crown Corporation that insists that any reproduction of the Tower is a trademark violation. Read the rest

Cooperative porno copyright troll gets 5 years in prison, while his co-conspirator got 14 years

Last month, Paul Hansmeier was sentenced to 14 years in prison and ordered to pay $1.5m in restitution for the copyright trolling his firm, Prenda Law, engaged in: the firm used a mix of entrapment, blackmail, identity theft, intimidation and fraud to extort millions from its victims by threatening to drag them into court for alleged infringement of copyright in eye-watering pornography, thus forever associating their victims' name with lurid pornography in the public record. Read the rest

Hate speech on 4chan is up by 40% since 2015, analysis of one million comments finds

Analysis of more than 1 million comments from the site finds dramatic shift toward racist hate content

How Metabrainz stood up to a predatory copyright lawsuit and won

I'm a volunteer on the board of The Metabrainz Foundation, the nonprofit that maintains the Metabrainz service that produces accurate metadata on music that helps listeners locate the music they love and musicians and services accurately allocate revenues from online services. Metabrainz's material is strictly Creative Commons, including the art its users include in their updates to the database. Read the rest

Porno copyright troll sentenced to 14 years: "a wrecking ball to trust in the administration of justice"

For years, Paul Hansmeier terrorized internet users through his copyright trolling racket Prenda Law, evading the law through shell companies and fraud, until, finally, he was brought to justice and pleaded guilty last August. Read the rest

Insider sources say Apple is shutting its east Texas stores to escape the jurisdiction of America's worst patent court

The Eastern District of Texas is home to a crooked court that is in the pocket of patent trolls, handing down ludicrous rulings in favor of the trolls, whose "head offices" are tiny, unoccupied offices in empty, dusty office buildings, the rent on which entitles patent trolls to claim that their rights are being infringed in the demense of the Eastern District's terrible judges. Read the rest

Great NY Times video parody: A Voice of Hate on America's Internet

Last year the New York Times ran Nazi sympathizer sympathizer article titled, A Voice of Hate in America’s Heartland ("He is the Nazi sympathizer next door, polite and low-key..."). To make well-deserved fun of the Times, IntrepidFox produced a pitch perfect Times video parody, "A Voice of Hate on America's Internet," that sympathizes with Internet trolls. Read the rest

Five reasons why Trump's followers love his lies

Amanda Marcotte, author of Troll Nation: How The Right Became Trump-Worshipping Monsters Set On Rat-F*cking Liberals, America, and Truth Itself, explained why Trump's followers embrace his lies even when they know they are being lied to:

Thread by @AmandaMarcotte: "No one actually believes Jim Acosta did anything wrong. This is one of those situations where conservatives collectively pretend to believe […]"

Image: C-Span Read the rest

The EU's copyright plans will let anyone mass-censor the internet

Tomorrow's EU vote on a new copyright directive will determine whether the EU internet will be governed by algorithmic censorship filters whose blacklist anyone can add anything to. (Visit Save Your Internet to tell your MEP to vote against this) Read the rest

A new, free edition Sarah Jeong's "The Internet of Garbage"

Journalist Sarah Jeong (previously) was just appointed to the New York Times's editorial board, prompting garbage people to dig through her twitter for old posts that could be made to seem offensive out of context in the hopes of getting her fired. Read the rest

Top White House troll Betsy DeVos is considering using federal funds to buy guns for teachers

Last night Carla and I attended a screening for an upcoming National Geographic documentary called Science Fair, about the International Science and Engineering Fair. It's a terrific movie about smart young scientists from around the world. One thing I learned watching it is that students in Germany pay almost nothing to attend college. Here in the US, students graduate with a debt load that will hurt the quality of their life for decades. What is the US Department of Education doing about it? Actively making it worse, thanks to Betsy DeVos, who oversees the department.

The Trump swamp is a veritable legion of cartoonishly evil supervillians, but the mustache-twirling cackler Betsy DeVos operates on a level that would make a 4chan troll blush. Married to the former CEO of Amway (which paid $56 million to settle a class action for "alleged fraud, racketeering, and operating as an illegal pyramid scheme," she is also sister of Erik Prince, founder of the murderous Blackwater mercenary firm.

This billionaire griefer -- with fleets of private jets and yachts at her command -- has no teaching experience and refuses to visit troubled schools. Instead, she spends her time coming up with outrageous ways to make students' lives financially miserable and fraught with danger. And like the best robot, she doesn't crack a smile when her victims suffer.

DeVos's latest lulz generator is a plan to get around a law that Congress passed in March that forbids federal funds from being used to buy guns for teachers. Read the rest

When should the press pay attention to trolls, lies and disinformation?

Whitney Phillips (previously), a researcher at the "think/do tank" Data & Society (previously) has prepared a snappy, short report on the paradox of covering disinformation campaigns, trolling, and outright lies? Read the rest

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