December 16

This Week in Tech Scandal

Uber Engaged in ‘Illegal’ Spying on Rivals, Ex-Employee Says For years, Uber secretly spied on key executives, drivers and employees at rival ride-hailing companies as part of a larger intelligence-gathering operation that spanned multiple countries, according to a letter made public in a federal court on Friday. Uber security employees occasionally impersonated drivers to gain access to chat groups, illegally recorded phone calls, and secretly wiretapped and tailed executives at rival companies over the course of 2016, the letter said. [more inside]
posted by Toddles at 6:26 AM - 1 comment

BMJ Christmas Edition

Every year the British Medical Journal publishes a special Christmas edition. [more inside]
posted by alby at 3:17 AM - 0 comments

December 15

Everyone loves a clumsy owl

Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2017 The winners & runners-up in this year’s competition. Treat it like a few minutes of well earned self care.
posted by faceplantingcheetah at 11:34 PM - 3 comments

Bennelong by-election plunges Australia's government into danger

This evening, the Australian government's fate rests with the middle-class, multicultural voters of Bennelong, an electorate covering a handful of suburbs on Sydney's lower north shore [PDF]. If the government loses the seat, they will lose their majority in the House of Representatives and have to govern in minority. Fighting to retain the seat for the Coalition government is incumbent MP John Alexander, former tennis pro, who triggered the byelection by resigning when it was revealed he was a dual British citizen, against the provisions of the Australian Constitution (previously 1 2). Trying to wrest it out of government hands is the high-profile challenger from the main opposition party Labor: American native, Sky News Australia host and former NSW premier Kristina Keneally. There's been many gaffes, much mud thrown and a lot of time, money and effort poured into the campaigns—Labor is widely expected to secure a swing to them of some magnitude, but will it be enough? We'll find out when the polls close in 60 minutes... [more inside]
posted by Panthalassa at 10:01 PM - 16 comments

The Best Podcasts of 2017

Medium's picks for the year's top podcasts. Sarah Larson's shorter take on it over at the New Yorker. And here is Wired's list.
posted by storybored at 9:11 PM - 23 comments

Adult coloring books, perceptual lattices, and Altair Designs

Where did adult coloring books come from? Well, The Little Folks Painting Book (1879) begat Buster’s Paint Book (1907) begat A Coloring Book: Drawings By Andy Warhol (1953) begat The Executive Coloring Book (1961) begat The Gay Coloring Book (1964)...and so on, right down to the amazing Altair Designs of the 1970s. And that's where close packing of circles, the tile makers of Morocco, and perceptual lattices come in, thanks to the authorial partnership between an aspiring mathematician and a practicing psychologist. Roger Burrows remembers the origin of Altair Designs. [more inside]
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:34 PM - 11 comments

Your Reality Is Driven By Marketing

Yesterday, some people noticed that The Mozilla Foundation hijacked their own in-browser "Shield Studies" program to distribute "Looking Glass", an Alternate Reality Game based on the TV Show Mr. Robot for Firefox 57 users. This was discovered as a fresh add-on with the entire description being "MY REALITY IS JUST DIFFERENT FROM YOURS.", leading some to suspect their browser had been hacked. Surprisingly, privacy-conscious users were not amused.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 3:20 PM - 70 comments

"The Book That Made Me a Feminist Was Written by an Abuser"

So, what to do with this once-beloved book? I’ve read it once since Greyland spoke out, and I don’t know if I will read it again. Probably not, I’m guessing. Discovering that powerful men are predators is disturbing, but not surprising. Learning that the author who introduced me to feminine spirituality and the hidden side of history abused children — girls and boys, her own daughter — was horrifying in an existential kind of way. I’m a writer and an editor and I know that characters can exceed their creators. I would go so far as to say that that’s the goal.
So I can keep Morgaine — what she has meant to me, what she has become in my personal mythology — while I reject Bradley.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:44 PM - 56 comments

Your Favorite Restaurant Sucks

Ranking America’s top 10 chain restaurants
posted by bq at 1:18 PM - 111 comments

"The camera is always on..."

22. Facebook wants you to send it your nudes, so it can block other people from posting those nudes as revenge porn.
As a revenge-porn prevention measure, you can upload your nudes to Facebook through Messenger, then Facebook will digitally scan them using machine learning and block anyone else from uploading that exact same photo. Facebook says they're not storing the photos anywhere; they'll only store a digital "hash" of it (basically a 1s and 0s version). least one employee has to see the photos to moderate it and verify it's actually a nude and not like, a photo of Trump.
35 Times Privacy Was A Lie In 2017 [Katie Notopoulos, BuzzFeed]
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:32 PM - 70 comments

Sin Luz

Sin Luz: A multimedia essay on the state of Puerto Rico from the Washington Post. Puerto Rico’s apagón, or “super blackout,” is the longest and largest major power outage in modern U.S. history. Without electricity, there is no reliable source of clean water. School is out, indefinitely. Health care is fraught. Small businesses are faltering. The tasks of daily life are both exhausting and dangerous. There is nothing to do but wait, and no one can say when the lights will come back on.
posted by dinty_moore at 11:48 AM - 9 comments

Charter & Voucher Schools & "Education"

A two-part investigation (by HuffPo) into the taxpayer-funded schools Betsy DeVos supports. Voucher Schools Championed By Betsy DeVos Can Teach Whatever They Want. Turns Out They Teach Lies. These schools teach creationism, racism and sexism. They’re also taking your tax dollars. Part Two: Inside The Voucher Schools That Teach L. Ron Hubbard, But Say They’re Not Scientologist. Betsy DeVos wants to expand school voucher programs throughout the U.S. Get ready for that list to include schools that promote Scientologist doctrine. [more inside]
posted by MovableBookLady at 11:44 AM - 4 comments

“ how many of us are there?”

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse [YouTube][Trailer] “Into the Spider Verse will be in theaters Christmas 2018, and will star Miles Morales in what the promo material is calling a “fresh vision of a different Spider-Man universe.” The elegant visual design of the trailer, with its realistic CGI environments and wiry, acrobatic Miles Morales, certainly feels fresh. The trailer doesn’t contain much except for a showcase of Miles being an excellent young Spider-Man, though it continues Black Panther’s fine tradition of soundtracking Marvel trailers with Vince Staples. The film will star Shameik Moore as the voice of Miles Morales, with Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) voicing his father, Jefferson Davis, and actor Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta) voicing Miles’s uncle, Aaron Davis, aka The Prowler.” [via: io9]
posted by Fizz at 11:20 AM - 27 comments

“You’re not being too paranoid.“

For the blissfully unaware, Anglin is a neo-Nazi troll and propagandist who runs The Daily Stormer, one of the more prominent sites of the white supremacist web. The passages selected by Vox Day in his blog post suggested that Anglin is persnickety about detail and presentation ― except on the subject of the Jews, who are to be blamed “for everything.”

HuffPost has acquired the 17-page document in its entirety, as well as transcripts from an IRC channel where the document was shared in an effort to recruit new writers. It’s more than a style guide for writing internet-friendly neo-Nazi prose; it’s a playbook for the alt-right.
posted by The Whelk at 10:50 AM - 44 comments

Are there no workhouses?

The World Inequality Report published [pdf] on Thursday by French economist Thomas Piketty, warned that inequality had ballooned to “extreme levels” in some countries and said the problem would only get worse unless governments took coordinated action to increase taxes and prevent tax avoidance. The economists said wealth inequality had become “extreme” in Russia and the US. The US’s richest 1% accounted for 39% of the nation’s wealth in 2014 [the latest year available], up from 22% in 1980.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:44 AM - 15 comments

desegregation never happened

School segregation didn’t go away. It just evolved. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:57 AM - 36 comments

The legal battle for segregation is won but the community battle goes on

African-American mayor in Georgia can't get the keys to get into his own office [auto-playing video] [more inside]
posted by runt at 7:42 AM - 5 comments

The analogue upgrade

We’re living in a digital world, but analog is making a comeback. "Digital isn’t always better. Sure, there are enormous benefits to working with media, files and devices in the digital domain, but we are, after all, still living in an analog world. As human beings, we still touch things with our hands, hear things with our ears and see things with our eyes — all of which are decidedly (and beautifully) analog reception devices." [more inside]
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 7:42 AM - 89 comments

“That was live, 7. Not taped”

52 years ago today, the joint NASA mission of Gemini 6A and Gemini 7 marked a milestone: the first time that two orbiting objects successfully rendezvoused with one another in space. The Gemini 6 command pilot and Mercury Seven astronaut Wally Schirra (and onboard computers) brought the capsule within 1 foot of Gemini 7 and the two spaceships stayed in close orbit for four-and-a-half hours. Shortly after their separation, they gleefully marked another milestone: the first song transmitted from space. [more inside]
posted by AgentRocket at 7:08 AM - 4 comments


Same-Sex Native American Couple Hopes to Break Barriers Through Dance A same-sex couple who fell in love while performing on the pow wow dance circuit is hoping they can bring confidence to other young Native Americans grappling with their sexual identities.
posted by hippybear at 6:21 AM - 14 comments

The Mesopotamian Pantheon

Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses is an overview of the pantheon originating among the Sumerians which was then taken up by various later cultures, including Babylonians and Assyrians. The site has entries on the fifty most important deities, from the obscure (Papsukkal, Geshtinanna, Tashmetu) to the well-known (Tiamat, Enki, Ishtar). The site also includes a glossary and a timeline of Mesopotamian history.
posted by Kattullus at 5:37 AM - 11 comments

When We Fight, We Have Our Children With Us

Friends ask me about being a parent who also remains politically involved. They ask me what it’s like to bring my kids with me to demonstrations, meetings and trainings, to breastfeed while facing a cop in riot gear, to be peed on by my baby at a direct-action training, to carry my toddler piggyback while marching through the streets. They want to know what it was like to bring my two young children to Standing Rock.
posted by ellieBOA at 5:15 AM - 12 comments

China’s big brother: artificial intelligence

China’s big brother: how artificial intelligence is catching criminals and advancing health care Zhu Long, co-founder of pioneering Yitu Technologies, whose facial-recognition algorithms have logged 1.8 billion faces and caught criminals across China, says AI will change the world more than the industrial revolution. [more inside]
posted by whitelotus at 3:14 AM - 31 comments

December 14

Hey Alma!

Welcome to Alma (, a website geared toward Jewish millennial women focusing on topics of cultural interest and forging a virtual community for those seeking a connection to others grappling with common “Jew-ish” issues. [more inside]
posted by elsietheeel at 4:15 PM - 12 comments

I aint one of yall peers, I'm the sum of all fears

The Roots' Black Thought unleashes a blistering freestyle on Funkmaster Flex's show on Hot 97 (NSFW language) for 10 minutes straight, doing everything from flipping words to talking about his position on late night television, to referencing a multitude of rappers from Rakim, the D.O.C., Kanye and Dr. Dre, to Kendrick Lamar, to talking about his mother and his upbringing and the current crop of rappers.
posted by cashman at 2:37 PM - 45 comments

Because a chicken does not have a penis.

What's the egg industry's biggest logistical challenge right now? Distinguishing whether a seconds-old chick is a male or a potential egg-layer. That's where chicken sexers come in; they're essential, and accurate sexers are prized in the industry. But how do they know what they know? And what can their well-developed pattern recognition teach us? James McWilliams, for Pacific Standard: The Lucrative Art of Chicken Sexing.
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:07 PM - 53 comments

Stopping By the Ruins

"One of the most interesting places my ruins research has taken me is into the world of ancient Arabic poetry. So here's the story of how a tiny fragment from the opening of ancient poems became one of the most enduring poetic tropes in history:" (Twitter thread)
posted by Paddle to Sea at 1:50 PM - 9 comments

Penguin Nest Cam! Eggs hatching soon!

Welcome to the nest! Streaming live from the National Aviary's Penguin Point, we are pleased to bring you the soon-to-be newest members of our African Penguin colony. Watch the penguin parents care for their eggs, and then their chicks, as they hatch and grow. [more inside]
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:32 PM - 20 comments


Why millennials are facing the scariest financial future of any generation since the Great Depression. Reality for many people in this country is the inability to afford rent, buy a home, pay for healthcare, and get a steady job. Why is this often the rule rather than the exception, and what effects does it have on millennials and the future?
posted by holmesian at 1:26 PM - 150 comments

Shirley Jackson reads The Lottery

Shirley Jackson was born on this day in 1916. In 1960 Folkways Records issued an LP of her reading The Lottery. Listen here.
posted by OmieWise at 1:26 PM - 15 comments

Miss Mary Hamilton and Ms. Sheila Michaels, claiming titles for women

Mary Hamilton and Sheila Michaels were civil rights activists in the '60s. We know their story in part because Sheila Michaels recorded hours of interviews with Mary Hamilton in the '90s, and in part because Mary Hamilton fought to be referred to as Miss Hamilton in court, in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court where her case was decided without hearing any oral arguments in 1964. Sheila Michaels was inspired by a piece of mail addressed to her roommate, Mary Hamilton, to be the champion for the title of Ms. starting in in 1961 (previously). [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief at 1:23 PM - 7 comments

The Younger Miss Bennets Expose Themselves at the Netherfield Ball.

Pride and Prejudice reimagined. TL: DR version: Just check the tags.
posted by ALeaflikeStructure at 12:36 PM - 13 comments


Spinning coins or tops is not random, but there is an algorithm to correct for this in playing dreidel.
posted by clew at 11:48 AM - 24 comments

Net Neutrality Repealed

In a 3-2 vote, the FCC repeals net neutrality. Ajit Pai celebrated by doing the Harlem Shake.
posted by WCityMike at 11:47 AM - 137 comments

Lost rivers, buried creeks, and disappeared streams

Hidden Hydrology is an occasional blog that investigates the history of disappearing and disappeared examples of water-based topology and infrastructure in urban settings. A recent post, The Water in the Wood, looks at the use of wooden water and sewer pipes in 19th century cities.
posted by carter at 11:20 AM - 9 comments

We Must Do Politics Or Have Politics Done To Us

The Communications Workers of America reached a tentative deal with AT&T for 21,000 workers who had been without a contract since February. New Media giants Vox and Buzzfeed are fighting attempts of workers to unionize, with Vox accused of union busting (Vox Media Union response) and Buzzfeed’s Jonah Peretti continues his opposition to organization. [more inside]
posted by The Whelk at 10:12 AM - 16 comments

"Ms. Faulkner is not a student at Middlebury College and never has been"

Last month Jame's O'Keefe, the conservative backed agent provocateur who had just failed in an attempt to discredit accusers of Roy Moore, spoke at Middlebury College to a crowd of around 50 people. His largely unwanted presence at the Vermont liberal arts college (or at least in its vicinity) would be a standard piece of Culture Wars agitation except for one thing: Nobody at the college seemed to know who had invited him. And the more they delved into it, the weirder it got.
posted by Artw at 9:30 AM - 62 comments

Lisa Simpson is now a Disney Princess

It's official: Disney has bought 21st Century Fox 'Disney now has its hands on Fox’s key franchises including “X-Men,” “Alien,” “Predator,” “Avatar,” “Die Hard,” “Planet of the Apes,” “Kingsman” and “Fantastic Four” (which is listed in the press release). Disney now also controls the full rights to all “Star Wars” films with the previously Fox-owned 1977 original likely to go back to Disney’s Lucasfilm – meaning theatrical re-releases and a potential home video version of the original theatrical cut.' [more inside]
posted by cendawanita at 9:28 AM - 78 comments

The Journal of Prince Studies

The Journal of African American Studies devoted its September 2017 issue to Prince. You can read and/or download all the articles at the journal's site.
posted by goatdog at 7:47 AM - 7 comments

tensions between the ephemeral and permanent

It's 30 years old: Snowman 1987/2016 (multimedia)
posted by jjray at 7:46 AM - 2 comments

Are we nearly there yet?

- Why Planes Don't Fly Faster [SLYT 11:32] "Nowadays American Airlines Flight 3 still leaves JFK daily at noon, but the difference is that today Flight 3 is scheduled to arrive at LAX at 3:27 p.m, 44 minutes later than in 1967." So what's going on? [more inside]
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 6:50 AM - 44 comments

That's No Moon...

When the moon hits your eye like a big...pancake? Photographer Robert Pufleb and designer Nadine Schlieper have created some astonishingly realistic images of possible lunar surfaces in their new book Alternative Moons using PANCAKES. [more inside]
posted by briank at 6:18 AM - 6 comments

“Yeah, I’m all in.”

When Phil came back in November, he wanted so badly to stay sober, and for the next three months he did. But it was a struggle, heartbreaking to watch. For the first time I realized that his addiction was bigger than either of us. I bowed my head and thought, I can’t fix this. It was the moment that I let go. I told him, “I can’t monitor you all the time. I love you, I’m here for you, and I’ll always be here for you. But I can’t save you.”Mimi O’Donnell Reflects on the Loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman and the Devastation of Addiction
posted by timshel at 2:28 AM - 39 comments

Papercraft Refugees

Eat Your Cake; I'm a Vietnamese Refugee (2010) (10’09) This documentary is about courage and survival and having the will and perseverance to succeed despite considerable obstacles. The story of Mitchell Pham's remarkable journey is told through the evocative use of stop-frame animation, created from a Vietnamese traditional folded paper craft, mixed with live action to show an innovative account of his harrowing but ultimately inspirational journey from Vietnamese prison camp, to a life in New Zealand after the Vietnam war. [more inside]
posted by Start with Dessert at 12:26 AM - 2 comments

December 13

Platform Democracy and Governance

Estonia, the Digital Republic - "Its government is virtual, borderless, blockchained, and secure. Has this tiny post-Soviet nation found the way of the future?" [more inside]
posted by kliuless at 11:43 PM - 7 comments

Yacob and Amo: Africa's Precursors to Locke, Hume and Kant

The African Enlightenment: The highest ideals of Locke, Hume and Kant were first proposed more than a century earlier by an Ethiopian in a cave [more inside]
posted by Panjandrum at 10:47 PM - 20 comments

... self-deprecating comedic humility balances the gravity of life...

“Heavyweight,” the Podcast That Contends with Our Regrets "When the writer, radio producer, and humorist Jonathan Goldstein set out to create his Gimlet podcast, “Heavyweight,” whose second season concluded on Thursday, he considered introducing each episode with a subway P.A. system that would talk to him like the voice of God. On the podcast, Goldstein—a longtime producer at “This American Life” whose radio show “Wiretap” aired on the CBC for more than a decade—acts as a kind of social instigator and meddling therapist. With gumption, empathy, and comic awkwardness, he ventures into people’s lives and tries to help them resolve things from the past: an unsolved human mystery, lingering guilt, a falling-out, hurt that’s turned to grievance." (slNewYorker)
posted by crazy with stars at 8:15 PM - 16 comments

the cake is a lie.

The All-Consuming Emotions of Food in Video Games [US Gamer] “Food is often seen in games as a means of survival, mostly as health. A piece of bread stolen off a vendor's table in Skyrim will grant you two health; the cabbage stew at the tavern will grant you 10. In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the spicy pepper steak will take the edge off of cold weather. A game like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has a huge inventory of food items, many of which are dropped after knocking out enemies. While the enormous variety adds an element of immersiveness into Castlevania, it's often nothing health or a novelty. Though none of these games' food systems could be considered simplistic, they have a narrow view of eating; food is health, and eating is the mechanic in which it's used. It's easy to see food only as a function of survival, but there’s a whole breadth of games—” [more inside]
posted by Fizz at 6:57 PM - 42 comments

In a crisis, play "Don't Stop Believin'"

The Bar [And Bat] Mitzvah Party Starters
posted by zarq at 3:19 PM - 13 comments

What? A swallow carrying a coconut?

Coconuts in mediaeval England weren't as rare as you'd think, no matter what Monty Python would have you believe. They were a common item in wills, fashioned into elaborate drinking cups.
posted by Helga-woo at 3:04 PM - 14 comments

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