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Boing Boing
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Boing Boing
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Livetweeting a toothbrush's firmware update
When your toothbrush is part of the Internet of Shit, sometimes you need to update its firmware, and when that happens, sometimes you have to decide whether your toothbrush will have access to your location. Thank you to Andrew Crow for livetweeting this glimpse of the future of Surveillance Dentistry. (Thanks, Radical Goats!) Read the rest
2 h
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Hard boozing raccoons mistakenly thought to be rabid
Hydrophobia, hallucinations, agitation and partial paralysis: the symptoms that come from being afflicted with rabies are twelve kinds of terrible. Oh, and death: a painful, writhing death. That's in there, too. Basically, it's one big "nah." So when folks in Milton, West Virginia saw a group of raccoons behaving erratically -- like they might be infected with rabies -- they called the cops right away. When the police cornered the raccoons in question, they quickly realized that the animals weren't rabid at all. From The Chicago Tribune: Turns out they appear to be drunk on crab apples," police said in their official statement to the community. The apprehended animals were held in custody and allowed to sober up in what can only be deemed a raccoon drunk tank. Then they were released into the wild, but not before some enterprising officer took a picture of the animal, showing it to be dazed, woozy, more than a little out of it. They named one drunk raccoon Dallas and released both near the woods. And with that, Dallas joined a long line of animals that have made headlines for public intoxication. According to Australian Geographic, raccoons and humans aren't the only animals that like to tie one on. Wallabies love to chase the dragon, monkeys yoink cocktails from tourists, and reindeer trip balls on magic mushrooms. My absolute favorite fact that Australian Geographic serves up, however, is that caterpillars frigging LOVE cocaine: The caterpillar larvae of the Eloria noyesi moth, found in Peru and Colombia, feeds exclusively on coca plants, eating as many as 50 leaves each day. Read the rest
2 h
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Comedians in a room playing foosball
When I was a teen in the 1970s, I lived for foosball. In the tiny town of Chester, VA where I grew up, the Family Circus Foosball Parlor, which had taken over the old turn-of-the-century pharmacy building in the center of town, was where all of the freaks, geeks, pool hustlers, and drug dealers hung out. I smoked my first weed behind the hedgerow beside Family Circus, squatting among discarded Family Circus napkins and french fry cups, and spent condoms. Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Jethro Tull enjoyed constant rotation on the Family Circus jukebox. The degree of your coolness was determined by the width (and amount of hem fray) of your bell bottom jeans. And the viciousness of your shot-wrist. I got pretty good at foosball. But other players were scary-good. I still remember playing a two-on-two game with a friend where our opponents, the two real stars of the Circus, turned away and covered their eyes each time they took their goal shots. Blindfolded, they still beat us. For the rest of my life, I will always count the sound of definitively sinking a foosball, with a dramatic snap of the wrist, to be one of the most satisfying sounds (and feelings) there is -- that bell-like ring of the cork ball as it pings off of the metal backstop of the goal. Comedian Kelsey Cook knows and loves that sound and feeling, too. Besides being a stand-up comic, Cook is a professional foosball player (as are her mom and dad). Read the rest
2 h
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
What color are these skulls? (Hint, they are not orange or purple)
If you're like most people, you see two different colored skulls above. But they're actually the same color. And no, the color is not purple or orange. It's actually red. How can that be? It's called the Munker-White Illusion (or Munker Illusion, explained here by Gizmodo). Via Popular Science: The pigments morph because of the ­Munker-​White illusion, which shifts the perception of two identical color tones when they’re placed against different surrounding hues. No one knows for sure, but the illusion probably results from what David Novick, a computer scientist at the University of Texas at El Paso, calls the color-completion effect. The phenomenon causes an image to skew toward the color of the objects that surround it. In a black-and-white image, a gray element would appear lighter when it’s striped with white, and darker when banded with black. Many neuroscientists think that neural ­signals in charge of relaying information about the pigments in our visual field get averaged—creating a color somewhere in the middle. Here, one skull is covered by blue stripes in the foreground and the other with yellow ones. When the original skulls take on the characteristics of the separate surroundings, they look like different colors entirely. Here's a visual that shows us how it works: Image: Hubert Tereszkiewicz See the full image at Popular Science Read the rest
3 h
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Penny Marshall, RIP
Entertainment mega-star Penny Marshall has passed away at the age of 75. Marshall produced, directed and starred in some of most fantastic television and movies ever made. Variety: But it all started, really, with “Laverne & Shirley.” The show, which premiered in January 1976, scored in the ratings immediately, and everyone began to figure out how to generate ancillary revenue. Within months of the series’ debut, Marshall and Williams were asked to record an album, “Laverne & Shirley Sing”; they sang one song from the album, a cover of the Crystals’ hit “Da Do Ron Ron,” on a float during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade that November. An animated series, “Laverne & Shirley in the Army,” ran in ABC’s Saturday morning lineup in 1981, with Marshall and Williams voicing the characters; after 13 episodes, an animated Fonzie (voiced by Henry Winkler) and his dog were added, and the product was wedded to the animated version of “Mork & Mindy” to create “The Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour.” The show inspired a line of tie-in merchandise, including Laverne, Shirley, Lenny, and Squiggy dolls, a board game, puzzles, and a great deal more. Marshall and Williams also made crossover appearances — back on “Happy Days,” where they’d started; on the 1978 pilot of “Mork & Mindy” together with Winkler’s Fonzie; and on the brief Garry Marshall-created show “Blansky’s Beauties” in 1977. Read the rest
3 h
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Tesla driver attempts to fill car with gasoline
A driver has trouble finding the gas cap on her Tesla. (It's best to watch this video on mute, unless you happen to be a fan of Muttley from Wacky Races.) Read the rest
3 h
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
This Chrome extension lets you block all followers of any Twitter users with one click
I like my filter bubble on Twitter. I have no interest engaging with alt-right nationalists, flat-earthers, trolls, and conspiracy theorists. I learned about a Chrome extension called Twitter Block Chain (nothing to do with blockchains), which will block all the followers of someone's twitter account with one click. It will also block all the accounts someone is following, too. (It will not block the accounts of people you already follow, which is a good thing.) Read the rest
3 h
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Watch this new Disney-Pixar short, "Bao"
In this 7-minute animated cartoon, a woman cooks a bao dumpling that suddenly comes to life as a baby. In “Bao,” an aging Chinese mom suffering from empty nest syndrome gets another chance at motherhood when one of her dumplings springs to life as a lively, giggly dumpling boy. Mom excitedly welcomes this new bundle of joy into her life, but Dumpling starts growing up fast, and Mom must come to the bittersweet revelation that nothing stays cute and small forever. This short film from Pixar Animation Studios and director Domee Shi explores the ups and downs of the parent-child relationship through the colorful, rich, and tasty lens of the Chinese immigrant community in Canada. Read the rest
4 h
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Ho ho no: risk of suffering a heart attack is 40% higher on Christmas Eve
The world is full of shitty holiday gifts: socks, piggy banks with no money in them and Star Wars action figures of characters that had MAYBE four minutes of screen time (I'M NOT VENTING, YOU'RE VENTING). But they all pale in comparison to the present that more people receive on Christmas Eve than on any other day of the year: From USA Today: Christmas Eve is the worst day of the year for heart attacks, researchers found, with risk rising nearly 40 percent. More specifically, research showed that most heart attacks hit around 10 p.m. that day. The observational study analyzed the timing of 283,014 heart attacks reported to the Swedish coronary care unit registry between 1998 to 2013. Findings were published in the peer-reviewed medical journal The BMJ. “We do not know for sure but emotional distress with acute experience of anger, anxiety, sadness, grief, and stress increases the risk of a heart attack,” researcher David Erlinge at Lund University’s Department of Cardiology, told The Telegraph. "Excessive food intake, alcohol, long distance traveling may also increase the risk." According to the study and surprising maybe no one, the folks most prone to suffer a holiday heart attack tend to be over 75 years old or who have a medical history that includes diabetes or coronary artery disease. That said, scientists will have to spend considerably more time in the lab in order to nail down the exact reason why Christmas Eve myocardial infarction is a thing. Until they've got it all sorted out, it's likely a good idea to spend Christmas Eve and other holidays with the friends and family that make your life worth living--having someone around who can dial 911 is a win. Read the rest
4 h
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Malaysia charges Goldman Sachs with criminal complicity in multi-billion-dollar 1MDB fraud
In 2015, a scandal involving the state-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund brought down the country's authoritarian government, amid allegations that the disgraced ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak and his retinue embezzled $4.5 billion from the fund. The new, progressive government has been aggressively pursuing the fraudsters; it had previously secured criminal convictions against Goldman-Sachs bankers and the "tabloid party boy" Jho Low, who is now a fugitive believed to be in China. Now the government has accused Goldman Sachs of criminal complicity in the scandal. Goldman Sachs denies culpability, saying that they believed the prime minister and his officials when they told Goldman Sachs's compliance department that what they were doing was legal. Goldman Sachs shares dropped 2.8% on the news. If convicted, Goldman Sachs would have to refund the $600m it charged the scammers in fees and pay fines. This is the first time Goldman Sachs, which has consistently denied wrongdoing, has faced criminal charges in the 1MDB scandal. "Certain members of the former Malaysian government and 1MDB lied to Goldman Sachs, outside counsel and others about the use of proceeds from these transactions," Goldman spokesman Michael DuVally said in a statement. "1MDB, whose CEO and Board reported directly to the prime minister at the time, also provided written assurances to Goldman Sachs for each transaction that no intermediaries were involved," DuVally said. Goldman Sachs fires back after Malaysia charges bank in 1MDB probe (via Naked Capitalism) Read the rest
4 h
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Firewatch available for Nintendo Switch
The fantastic indie game Firewatch, in which you play a fire lookout living alone in a firewatch tower in the middle of a Wyoming wilderness, is now available on the Nintendo Switch for $20. The year is 1989. You are a man named Henry who has retreated from your messy life to work as a fire lookout in the Wyoming wilderness. Perched atop a mountain, it's your job to find smoke and keep the wilderness safe. An especially hot, dry summer has everyone on edge. Your supervisor, a woman named Delilah, is available to you at all times over a small, handheld radio—and is your only contact with the world you've left behind. But when something strange draws you out of your lookout tower and into the world below, you'll explore a wild and unknown environment, facing questions and making interpersonal choices that can build or destroy the only meaningful relationship you have. Read the rest
4 h
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Michael Flynn sentencing DELAYED, Judge Sullivan status hearing set for March 13th 2019
Lock him up. Donald Trump's disgraced former national security advisor Mike Flynn went to court today to be sentenced for lying to the FBI about his contacts with former Russia ambassador to the United States. Michael Flynn's sentencing will be delayed, to give him time to finish fully cooperating with federal prosecutors. Judge Sullivan repeated a statement that he will not make any promises about no jail time when it comes time to deliver Flynn's sentence. In the Washington courtroom, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan pressed Flynn and his attorneys aggressively during the hearing about the guilty plea, and his interactions with the FBI. Prosecutors say Flynn may continue to help the government in ongoing investigations. The judge began by basically calling bullshit on the last-minute court filings by Flynn's defense teams last week, which implied the former general was entrapped into lying by crooked FBI agents. This was a bogus implication, and Judge Sullivan was not pleased. The judge queried Flynn and his team, point by point, essentially asking them if they wanted to relitigate that part of the legal process -- the FBI part. In response, Flynn told the judge, “I was aware that lying to the FBI was a crime.” “Are you continuing to accept responsibility for your false statements,” Judge Sullivan asked. “I am, your honor,” said Flynn. Trump began the day of his former National Security Advisor's trial by wishing Flynn 'good luck.' Not a good look for Individual-1. After a series of interrogations from the judge, and responses from Flynn and attorneys, Judge Sullivan asks one final time, and still sounding skeptical: "If you want to proceed because you are guilty of this offense..." Flynn replies that he is, and says wants to proceed. Read the rest
4 h
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Humorous ad about South African explorer discovering Europe in 1650
This funny South African ad depicts an African explorer discovering Europe in the 1650s, a counterfactual to the 1652 arrival in South Africa of the Dutch. But it's upsetting people there and fast food chain Chicken Licken has withdrawn it due to the complaints. South African Sandile Cele lodged a complaint with the Advertising Regulatory Board, arguing that the commercial made a "mockery of the struggles of the African people against the colonisation by the Europeans in general, and the persecutions suffered at the hands of the Dutch in particular". Upholding the complaint, the board said: "While the commercial seeks to turn the colonisation story on its head with Big John travelling to Europe, it is well-known that many Africans were in fact forced to travel to Europe in the course of the colonisation of Africa. "They did not leave their countries and villages wilfully. They starved to death during those trips to Europe and arrived there under harsh and inhumane conditions." Chicken Licken said it wanted to show that South Africa had "all the potential to conquer the world and rewrite history from an African perspective". Read the rest
4 h
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Teen working at Walmart quits his job over the intercom with huge rant over how they treated him
Last week, Jackson Racicot, a 17-year-old employee of Walmart for over a year, was fed up with his job and the way Walmart's management treated him. But instead of just walking out, he let them – and everyone else in the store – know he was quitting by announcing it on the store intercom. And he didn't just stop there. Not only did he announce that he was finished, but he let the store and its shoppers know exactly why. "Attention all shoppers, associates and management, I would like to say to all of you today that nobody should work here, ever. Our managers will make promises and never keep them. Not only that, they will preach to us about how they care about their employees, but about a month ago..." Racicot begins. After explaining what happened and lodging his complaints about the company, he ends his announcement with, "Fuck management, fuck this job and fuck Walmart," to cheers from the shoppers. Via CNBC: "I got fed up," he said later in an interview with the Edmonton Journal, revealing that he already had a new job lined up before he quit. "I don't regret what I did, I went into this knowing what will happen." Read the rest
4 h
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Does pure capsaicin repel mice and rats?
Shawn Woods has been trying out different home remedies to repel rodents. A while back he grew some hot peppers with a scoville rating of 2 million (one scoville is the minimum detectable amount of capsaicin, the stuff that makes peppers hot). He mixed his peppers with grain to see if it would repel rats and mice, but it didn't keep them away. This time, Woods bought some pure capsaicin crystals (16 million scovilles) to see if it would work as a rat repellent. First, he tested some of the crystals on his tongue, and it didn't have much of an effect. Next, he tried a tiny amount of the powder dissolved in vodka and it hit him hard. He then soaked sunflower seeds in a very strong vodka/capsaicin mixture to see if rodents would eat them. He set a pile of them next to untreated seeds as well as seeds soaked in pure vodka. They favored the vodka-soaked seeds, then finished off the untreated seeds. They did not eat the ones soaked in the capsaicin/vodka mixture. Read the rest
4 h
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Lawsuit: US citizen suing CBP for coercing him into unlocking his phone during boarding at LAX
Haisam Elsharkawi is a US citizen of Egyptian descent who was travelling to Mecca in 2017 when he was pulled out the boarding line for his flight from LAX by CBP agents who demanded that he unlock his phones; when he refused and asked for a lawyer, he was handcuffed and taken to an interrogation room where he was questioned and bullied until he unlocked his phones; the CBP officers spent 15 minutes paging through his emails, making snarky remarks about his Amazon purchase history and how many unread emails he had, and then let him go. He missed his flight and was not offered rebooking by Turkish Airlines. The CBP did not have a warrant to conduct the search. Elsharkawi is suing the CBP. He's seeking damages and an order that the CBP will not conduct searches in this manner in the future. Elsharkawi is now suing the US government, the Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, CBP commissioner Kevin McAleenan, and four of the agents who questioned him in 2017, seeking damages and an order that would prevent the government from performing this kind of search in the future. He and his lawyers argue that CBP and DHS violated the First Amendment, which protects religious freedom and freedom of speech, because his phone contained “expressive content and associational information.” His lawsuit also argues that they breached the Fourth Amendment, which bars unreasonable searches and seizures, and the Fifth Amendment, which protects against self-incrimination. “The search of Mr. Elsharkawi’s phone was not supported by any real suspicion of ongoing or imminent criminal activity and as such no basis for a search existed,” Elsharkawi’s lawyers, who defined the incident as “outrageous,” argued in the complaint. Read the rest
4 h
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Unique business opportunity: Nudist park for sale
You could be the new proprietor of Katikati Naturist Park, a popular nudist resort in Bay of Plenty, New Zealand! The 5.7 hectares (approx. 14 acres) features motel units, cabins, tent sites, a swimming pool, mini-golf, saunas, and, of course, hot tubs. It's listed at NZ$380,000. From Stuff.co.nz: The park is surrounded by gardens, a secluded bush drop and a river. Guests are able to partake in mini golf, pétanque and swimming, provided they abide by the "compulsory nudity" rule. Of the park, (Coffeys property broker Matt) D'Anvers says "there are no sexual overtones whatsoever" and that guests are "simply people who love to run around with no clothes on". "There are quite a lot of families that go there." Interested parties may want to visit the property on New Year's Eve for the annual "World Famous Nudeoke" event. Naturist Park - A Unique Business Opportunity" (Coffeys) Read the rest
5 h
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Edward Gorey's macabre tarot deck from 1966
Some Boing Boing readers may know Edward Gorey without knowing it. The author and illustrator of a 100 (or so) ironic-gothic, darkly droll little picture books with titles like The Beastly Baby, The Deranged Cousins, and The Loathsome Couple, Gorey was the inspiration for YA novels such as Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events books and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. Guillermo Del Toro’s Crimson Peak, Neil Gaiman’s Caroline, and Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas owe him a creative debt, too. Gorey, who died at the age of 75 in 2000, wrote mock-morality tales and nonsense verse, typically set in Victorian or Edwardian England and dealing, inevitably, with murder, mayhem, and Acts of God, all recounted in a deadpan that never cracks though it manages, even so, to insinuate a kind of camp-macabre subtext into events. More often than not, tots get the axe, as in his most famous work, The Gashlycrumb Tinies, an abecedarium that recounts the deaths of 26 little dears in rhyming couplets (“B is for Basil/ assaulted by bears...”) His texts are accompanied by pen-and-ink illustrations so intricately crosshatched and stippled they fool the eye into thinking they’re antique engravings, perhaps by the nineteenth-century printmaker Gustave Doré or John Tenniel, illustrator of Lewis Carroll’s Alice books.             A polymath who taught himself to read at age three and left a personal library of some 20,000 volumes when he died, Gorey was a man of ungovernable intellectual passions, hardly missing a performance, over three decades, by George Balanchine’s New York City Ballet and taking in a thousand films in one notable year of wall-to-wall moviegoing. Read the rest
5 h
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Puppers are not OK with a cat-shaped pillow showing up in their house
Not a one of these pooches can deal with a disembodied kitty head appearing on their turf. Maybe it's the size of the cat that it must have come from that spooks them. Maybe it's the way that the pillow's eyes follow them around the living room. It's a clear and present danger to everything the mutts believe in. It must be stopped. Read the rest
5 h
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Sony won't let you post "crap recordings" of a few seconds of your own Beethoven piano performance
Back when Sony's fraudulent copyright claims resulted in a 47 second recording of pianist James Rhodes playing Bach, apologists argued that Sony and Youtube's copyright bots couldn't be expected to tell the difference between a highly skilled Bach performance and the ones in their own catalog. But you don't need to be a concert pianist to have your performances censored by Sony. Dheera Venkatraman writes, "It happened to me to. And I'm not even a professional pianist. I'm an engineer and play piano as a hobby. My recording is crap, and I have no associations with any labels." As a reminder, the EU is poised to make this kind of filter mandatory for all services and all content types: text, audio, video, photos, code and more. Read the rest
6 h
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Kansas judge tells government debt collectors they can't hound a broke 58-year-old woman until her 84th birthday
In 1991, Vicky Jo Metz borrowed $16,613 to pay for tuition; now she's 59, and has paid back 90% of that money -- and she still owes $67,277. Metz is broke and has filed for bankruptcy. But thanks to a law signed by Bill Clinton, it's almost impossible to discharge your student debt through bankruptcy. That's why the US government sent their most notorious knuckle-breaking debt-collectors, the Educational Credit Management Corporation to argue against Metz's debt being forgiven. ECMC had a counteroffer: Metz could pay $203 per month for 25 years -- until she was 84 years old -- and then, the remaining debt (which would have ballooned to $152,277.88, 900% of her principal) would be forgiven. The judge pointed out that Metz would be a formerly bankrupt person living on Social Security by then, and would be liable for taxes on the $152,277.88 in "debt forgiveness" that ECMC was generously extending to her. The proposal was completely ordinary: ECMC makes this kind of deal for Americans all the time. What was out of the ordinary was judge Robert E. Nugent's response: he told them to pound sand. Instead, he ordered Metz to pay back the $1,000 or so she still owes on her principal and then have done with it. As Richard Fossey writes, this highly unusual ruling is a breath of fresh air in the world of predatory government student debt-collection. Vicky Jo Metz's case is important for two reasons. First, Judge Nugent rejected ECMC's argument, which it has made hundreds of times, that a distressed student-loan debtor should be forced into an income-based repayment plan as an alternative to bankruptcy relief. Read the rest
6 h
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Charter will pay $174.2m for defrauding New Yorkers over data speeds, the largest settlement ever paid by a US ISP
Charter-Spectrum has settled a lawsuit brought by the New York Attorney General that accused the company of defrauding New Yorkers through false advertising about the data-speeds they could expect from their plans (among other things, the AG accused Charter of supplying customers with modems that were too slow to attain the speeds they'd paid for). The settlement, for $174.2 million, is the largest ever paid by a US ISP. $62.5m will be refunded to 700,000 customers in cash; and $110m will come in the form of free premium cable TV and streaming for 2.2 million customers. Earlier this year, Charter was ordered to leave New York, selling off its cable holdings to someone less crooked; it has been begging for its life ever since. Presumably this settlement is an opportunity to buy some goodwill while avoiding the bad publicity that a trial would create. Per the attorney general’s office, that money will be distributed largely to customers who rented a modem or router from Spectrum, as well as customers subscribing to a legacy Time Warner Cable plan (from before Charter purchased the company) of 100 Mbps or higher. Customers who fit those categories will get $75 back, with an additional $75 to the roughly 150,000 customers who rented an inadequate modem for 24 months or more. As for the streaming and cable services, Charter will be giving all customers who subscribe to both cable and internet either three free months of HBO or six free months of Showtime. Internet-only customers will get a free month of Charter’s Spectrum TV Choice streaming service and a free month of Showtime. Read the rest
6 h
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Tumblr's porn filter blocked Tumblr's images illustrating what Tumblr's porn filter won't block
Yesterday, despite the manifest, glaring problems with its porn filter, Tumblr turned on mandatory porn-blocking for all its users' content, so that anything that its bots identified a pornographic would be invisible. Tumblr faced a backlash over its announcement that it would ban "adult content," and not just because Tumblr had traditionally nurtured communities built around queer and marginalized sexuality -- but also because the company defined "adult content" in part as being "female presenting nipples." In response to concerns about blocking breastfeeding images, breast-cancer awareness posts, and other "legitimate" uses of "female-presenting nipples," Tumblr put up a post illustrating and explaining the kinds of "female-presenting nipples" the service would allow: "exposed female-presenting nipples in connection with breastfeeding, birth or after-birth moments, and health-related situations, such as post-mastectomy or gender confirmation surgery. The images that accompanied the post? Blocked by Tumblr's porn filter. When Gizmodo posted the gif to Tumblr ourselves, it was immediately flagged as a potential violation and hidden by the platform’s filter. When the images shown in the gif were uploaded individually, two of the four examples—which appeared to show a breast ultrasound and a pro-choice protest, respectively—were similarly flagged and hidden. Tumblr's Porn Filter Flags Its Own Examples of 'Permitted' Nudity [Hudson Hongo/Gizmodo] (via Beyond the Beyond) Read the rest
6 h
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Charitable Giving Guide 2018
Boing Boing Here's a guide to the charities the Boingers support in our own annual giving. Please add the causes and charities you give to in the forums! Friends of the Merril Collection I'm on the board of the charity that fundraises for Toronto's Merril Collection, a part of the Toronto Public Library system that is also the world's largest public collection of science fiction, fantasy and related works (they archive my papers). Since its founding by Judith Merril, the Merril Collection has been a hub for creators, fans, and scholars. I wouldn't be a writer today if not for the guidance of its Writer in Residence when I was a kid. —CD The Tor Project The Tor anonymity and privacy tools are vital to resistance struggles around the world, a cooperative network that provides a high degree of security from scrutiny for people who have reasons to fear the powers that be. From our early hominid ancestors until about ten years ago, humans didn't leave behind an exhaust-trail of personally identifying information as they navigated the world -- Tor restores that balance. —CD Planned Parenthood Because we deserve health care, including reproductive, gender, and sexual health care. Because access to birth control and safe abortion is a human right. Because Trump's regime wants to destroy all of this. —XJ Software Freedom Conservancy Software Freedom Conservancy does the important, boring, esoteric work of keeping the internet from tearing itself to pieces, playing host organization to free software projects like Git, Selenium and Samba (to name just three). Read the rest
6 h
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Debunking "ghost users": MI5's plan to backdoor all secure messaging platforms
When lawmakers and cops propose banning working cryptography (as they often do in the USA), or ban it outright (as they just did in Australia), they are long on talk about "responsible encryption" and the ability of sufficiently motivated technologists to "figure it out" and very short on how that might work -- but after many years, thanks to the UK's spy agency MI5, we have a detailed plan of what this system would look like, and it's called "ghost users." MI5's idea is for secure messaging platforms to create a backdoor in their systems that allows law enforcement to be an invisible part of every encrypted chat. Eminent cryptographer Matthew Green (previously) has written an excellent explainer describing exactly how this plan would work -- and also, the risks it would expose users to, and finally, why it will not actually work. Even though it's a debunking of a daffy, unworkable idea, it's a really important read: though the idea is daffy and unworkable, it stands a good chance of being made into law. The real problem with the GCHQ proposal is that it targets a weakness in messaging/calling systems that is well known to providers, and moreover, a weakness that providers have been working to close — perhaps because they’re worried that someone just like GCHQ (or much worse) might try to exploit it. GCHQ making this proposal virtually guarantees that those providers will move much, much faster. And they have quite a few options at their disposal. Read the rest
6 h
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These babies with adult teeth looks very weird
What the hell is this? Well, it's "Babies With Teeth." From PetaPixel: The project is the brainchild of Texas photographer Ashley Evans, and it all started while she was playing around in an app called YouApp. “I had an app and wanted to see what my son looked like with teeth,” Evans tells PetaPixel. “It was hilarious so I did it to my daughter. I then posted in a Facebook group and it just blew up from there.” Many of the images are accompanied by captions that adultize the babies, but I think they're just as funny without any description. See more at Babies With Teeth (Facebook). Read the rest
6 h
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Elizabeth Warren's new bill: let the US government manufacture generic versions of overpriced, unavailable drugs
Senator Elizabeth Warren has introduced a bill called the Affordable Drug Manufacturing Act, which allows the US government to manufacture generic versions of drugs "in cases in which no company is manufacturing a drug, when only one or two companies manufacture a drug and its price has spiked, when the drug is in shortage, or when a medicine listed as essential by the World Health Organization faces limited competition and high prices." Generic drugs once dominated Americans' filled prescriptions, but as the number of manufacturers for generics has dwindled, so has their available -- meanwhile, prices have surged, and while stories about Martin Shrkeli and epipen profiteers have generated headlines, they're just the tip of the iceberg. The high prices aren't just a product of an uncompetitive market; according to state antitrust suits, a cartel of 16 generic drug manufacturers conspired to fix prices on more than 300 drugs. Warren's bill requires the US government to pay a license fee the patents on drugs; then grant permission to manufacturers to use these licensed patents to make the generic versions at a "fair price." The bill also bans former drug lobbyists, and executives from pharma companies that had been punished for wrongdoing from serving as director of the new, proposed Office of Drug Manufacturing. One drug is listed specifically: Generic insulin treatments would have to be produced within the first year of the legislation’s passage. Prices for insulin have skyrocketed in recent years and shortages are common. “In market after market, competition is dying as a handful of giant companies spend millions to rig the rules,” Warren said in a statement. Read the rest
7 h
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Douglas Rushkoff: Join "Team Human!"
Boing Boing pal Douglas Rushkoff's new book, Team Human, is a fiery, inspiring, and ultimately optimistic call for us to fight against the divisive, commodifying agenda built into our technology, reassert what it really means to be human, and then, as Timothy Leary urged, "find the others." Above, watch Doug lay it all out in a TED Salon talk. From TED: Humans are no longer valued for our creativity, says media theorist Douglas Rushkoff -- in a world dominated by digital technology, we're now just valued for our data. In a passionate talk, Rushkoff urges us to stop using technology to optimize people for the market and start using it to build a future centered on our pre-digital values of connection, creativity and respect. Read the rest
8 h
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Yellies toy spiders: "The louder you yell, the faster they move"
This year's hot -- and controversial -- holiday toys are Hasbro's Yellies, a line of plush spider-like ("Spooders) creatures that move faster when you scream at them. The toys are creating quite a kerfuffle with parents who think the toys are a bad idea. The person who invented this toy is clearly not a parent. pic.twitter.com/DQGsrn58mI — Ellie Hall (@ellievhall) December 12, 2018 Every parent's nightmare. #yellies pic.twitter.com/z0wNdM3fP0 — littleterror (@mattterror) December 1, 2018 One mother shared that her son was scared of the toy and that it actually fed off her kid's "screams of terror": ...Being the mother of a naturally loud and boisterous kid, I thought it would be the perfect Christmas present... well I couldn’t wait for Christmas. So I crack it open tonight, and get a good look at it. I test it out. I’m amazed at how powerful the little motor is... how fast the little legs move... how its creepy little eyes glow a lovely shade of radioactive green. So I call Leo in. He looks at it, cocks his little head to the side. And then, obviously, I yelled at it. The spider ran for it. Leo starts screaming... the louder he screams, the faster the spider pursued him. He runs. And this is when we discovered the fun little feature in which the spider has a tendency to stop abruptly... pause for a couple seconds... spin in several erratic circles... and then turn towards wherever it senses sound... and take off in that direction. Read the rest
8 h
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Stephen Colbert lets kids write Christmas movie concept, then shares its hilarious trailer
Instead of having grownups write a Christmas movie for kids, Stephen Colbert gathered a group of children to write their own Christmas movie concept. That part of the segment was funny enough but then he got some of his celebrity pals to star in the faux film's trailer -- Bryan Cranston, Laura Linney, Nick Kroll, Rachel Dratch, and John Oliver -- and that put it over the top. Watch the hilarious trailer for Santa Fight: Saving the Holiday from Atnas. Read the rest
9 h
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Dotsies: a dot-based font for those of us tired of normal letters
Dotsies is a typeface that abandons the latin alphabet completely in favor of dots. Not pixelated letterforms, like a pixel font: seeemingly random agglomerations of noise. It looks like something designed to be seen by machines, like QR codes, but which would remain human-readable to those in the know. [via Jeff Atwood] How much better is it? It is significantly more horizontally condensed than normal fonts, letting about twice as much fall within the area of your field of vision that perceives fine detail. As to overall space efficiency in practice, the jury is still out. This sounds hard It's easier than you think. There are only 26 letters. Numbers and punctuation aren't altered. The linked demo page is set up to let you accomodate yourself to dotsies by scrolling down the page. ZALGO!! Previously: Tzump_(Wikipedia article from the future) Read the rest
9 h
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
New Yorkers plug in giant boombox found in Manhattan, surprise holiday party ensues
Improv Everywhere's latest mission? Place a giant red boombox at Pier 17 in Manhattan for passerby to discover and plug in. Real New Yorkers worked together to carry the 160-foot long cord across the pier to an oversized outlet. Once the boombox was plugged in, everyone was surprised by a massive holiday dance party with 100 acrobatic dancers, thousands of Christmas lights placed on two historic ships, and 10 hidden snow machines. Behind-the-scenes photos of the mission can be found at the Improv Everywhere site. Read the rest
9 h
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Porch pirates sprayed with glitter and fart smell after opening fake package booby traps
We've all seen the videos of thieves shamelessly stealing packages off of people's porches. Now someone is fighting back. That someone is former NASA-JPL engineer/current science YouTube star Mark Rober and he ain't playing nice. He's spent six months crafting a beautifully over-engineered revenge package that looks like an Apple product. After the thief nabs it, it first gloriously sprays a pound of glitter when opened and then follows up by spurting out fart spray every 30 seconds. Oh yeah, it also has several phone cameras inside recording it, so we get to watch it all go down. He says it might be his "Magnum Opus" and I may have to agree. It's pretty crazy. "I've officially peaked. This was one of the most arduous builds in a long time just because there were so many single points of failure for the system (means LOTS of testing/tweaking). Thanks for watching and sharing with anyone you know who has had a package stolen." Now, if you don't have building skills like Mark (and who does?), you can do what I do. I put junk I no longer want in empty boxes, tape it back up and leave it on my porch. (It's not my idea, I saw some meme that's been going around.) Mark Rober previously on BB (MAKE) Read the rest
9 h
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
NY's 1974 ban on nunchuku just deemed unconstitutional
In 1974, the State of New York banned nunchuku, the Okinawan martial arts weapon popularized in the US by the classic Bruce Lee film Enter the Dragon. On Friday, 44 years later, Brooklyn federal court judge Pamela Chen ruled that the ban is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. The plaintiff in the case is a fellow named James Maloney who had been busted nearly 20 years ago for possessing nunchuku in this home. From the Associated Press: The ruling went over the history of the ban, and said it “arose out of a concern that, as a result of the rising popularity ‘of ‘Kung Fu’ movies and shows,′ ‘various circles of the state’s youth’ — including ‘muggers and street gangs’ — were ‘widely’ using nunchaku to cause ‘many serious injuries.’”.. Maloney, a professor at the State University of New York’s Maritime College, said some of his motivation was outrage. “How could a state simply ban any and all possession of a weapon that had a long and proud history as a martial-arts weapon, with recreational, therapeutic and self-defense utility,” he said. Maloney also wanted to teach a form of martial art using nunchucks that he created, which he calls “Shafan Ha Lavan” to his sons, the ruling said. Read the rest
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Watch the "Best News Bloopers 2018"
Keep fucking that chicken! Read the rest
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Court orders deer poacher to watch ‘Bambi’ repeatedly as part of sentence
In the Ozarks, a Missouri court ordered a poacher to watch the movie "Bambi" over and over again as part of his sentence for a criminal scheme to illegally kill hundreds of deer. From KansasCity.com David Berry Jr. was ordered to watch the Disney classic at least once a month during his year-long jail sentence in what conservation agents have called one of the largest deer poaching cases in state history, the Springfield News-Leader reports. "The deer were trophy bucks taken illegally, mostly at night, for their heads, leaving the bodies of the deer to waste," said Don Trotter, the prosecuting attorney in Lawrence County. Berry, his father, two brothers and another man who helped them had their hunting, fishing and trapping privileges revoked temporarily or permanently. The men have paid a combined $51,000 in fines and court costs — but the judge ordered a special addition to Berry's sentence for illegally taking wildlife. Court records show he was ordered by Lawrence County Judge Robert George to "view the Walt Disney movie Bambi, with the first viewing being on or before December 23, 2018, and at least one such viewing each month thereafter" while at the county jail. Berry was also sentenced to 120 days in jail in nearby Barton County for a firearms probation violation. IMAGE: This undated photo provided by in Lawerence County Sheriff in Mt. Vernon, Mo., shows David Berry Jr. Berry was ordered to watch the Walt Disney movie at least once each month during his one-year jail sentence in what conservation agents are calling one of the largest deer poaching cases in state history. Read the rest
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Listen to this reverb, as a vocalist sings 'Rejoice'
Unmute this one! “This is a Pantheon style Cathedral in Montefrio, Spain,” says IMGURian MayMyEnemiesLiveLong. “The design allows for a 6 second long reverb. As an audio engineer, this definitively blows my mind.” That reverb.... (Rejoice) The vocal artist is Malinda. Source: facebook.com/groups/AudioEngineeringSoc. Read the rest
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Watch Jason Momoa and friends perform a Haka at 'Aquaman' premiere
In the video below, Actor Jason Momoa, his friends, and his children perform the ceremonial Haka at the premiere of the new Warner Bros. movie 'Aquaman.' PHOTOS: 'Aquaman,' courtesy Warner Bros. Read the rest
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Robert Mueller was target of Russian infowar, Senate report reveals
After Donald Trump was sworn in as President, Putin's Russian hacker teams focused on a new target, namely special counsel Robert Mueller. They worked to help get Trump into the White House, and they've been working ever since to attack the biggest threat to his power. Robert Mueller is that threat. More at the Washington Post. If Putin is trying to turn Americans against Mueller’s investigation into Trump & Russian election interference, what else do you really need to know? https://t.co/rNEf4BwCXL — Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) December 18, 2018 Many months after the election, Trump and Russia were still on the same page. https://t.co/9FttSjZcNr — southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) December 18, 2018 Read the rest
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Mueller releases memo on Michael Flynn interview, on eve of #Flynn sentencing
Flynn pleaded guilty to multiple federal charges, and is set to be sentenced on Tuesday. On the eve of former Trump aide Michael Flynn's sentencing on felony charges, special counsel Robert Mueller has released a January 2017 FBI memo that details an interview with Flynn by agent Peter Strzok and another FBI agent. Here is a PDF copy shared by USA Today. In the interview described in the SCO memo, Flynn --President Donald Trump's national security adviser at the time -- lied about his contact with Russia's Ambassador to the United States at that time, Sergey Kislyak. Flynn, writes Mueller, “does not need to be warned it is a crime to lie to federal agents to know the importance of telling them the truth.” This will be big. Judge in Flynn case says that the memo, written by FBI agents following their interview with Michael Flynn at the White House, should be made public, with some redactions allowed, and will be relevant at his sentencing. This memo had only been filed under seal. — Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) December 17, 2018 From the Daily Beast's synopsis: The document, dated February 2017, recounts Flynn’s conversation with FBI agents at the White House in January of that year. The notes state that agents asked Flynn if he remembered asking Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to refrain from retaliating against President Obama’s expulsion of Russian diplomats for meddling in the 2016 election. Flynn responded by saying, “Not really. I don't remember. It wasn’t ‘Don’t do anything.’” Agents also asked Flynn if he asked Russia and other countries to vote down a pending U.N. Read the rest
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Kickstarting mosaics made from precious stones and marble that replicate 16th-century anatomical drawings
John Unger writes, "Using marble, stone and precious gems, I am creating a series of 14 mosaics that replicate 16th century anatomical engravings. Each mosaic is 7’ x 4’ and presents the figures at life size— viewers can stand before them and see anatomy as though looking in a mirror." I’ve invested over 41 thousand dollars and more than 4000 hours of labor to bring this project to the halfway point. The vast bulk of that expense was buying several tons of stone all at once to insure consistent color throughout the series. I’ve just launched a Kickstarter campaign to support the completion of the series. Rewards range from large ruby crystals for only $25 to life-size reproductions of the mosaics. I only need to raise $3110 to finish the next three, and if I top $7594.00, I can add the two illustrations that detail the human skeletal system. The stones and minerals I use in the mosaics occur in all the same colors as the interior of the human body—this similarity is completely fascinating to me, and was a major inspiration for the project. I select each piece of stone to closely match the color, shading and texture of the reference images—high-res scans from the U.S. Library of Medicine’s 1873 edition of Bartolomeo Eustachi’s Tabulae Anatomicae. I start with 12” x 12” stone floor tiles and cut them into strips as thin as 1mm on a wet saw. I then use tile nippers to cut the strips to size and a series of three different diamond lapidary machines to smooth and shape them. Read the rest
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Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Arizona realtor surprised to find Canadian "white hat" hacker talking to him through his smart doorbell
Arizona realtor Andy Gregg's Nest doorbell/camera started talking to him: the voice on the other end identified itself as a Canadian "white hat" security researcher who'd broken into his camera by using a password that Gregg had used on multiple services, including some that had been breached. The hacker warned him that he was vulnerable and told him to tighten up his security before a bad guy got into his doorbell. Read the rest
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Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Pablo Ferro, the title sequence designer, died last month
Pablo Ferro died last month at the age of 83. He created many memorable movie title sequences and trailers, including Dr. Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange, Bullitt, Men in Black, The Thomas Crown Affair, and Stop Making Sense. (One title Ferro did not create, but I showed my kids last night, is the one for Soylent Green, a split-screen masterpiece created by Chuck Braverman.) [via Open Culture] Read the rest
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Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Bobby Cobb's "Penny Can" is my favorite made-for-tv game
Television's long cancelledCougar Town was horribly named, but an absolutely brilliant sitcom. Bobby Cobb's Penny Can is a testament to its greatness. PENNY CAN!!!!!!!!! Bobby "Wrong balls" Cobb, nicknamed for wrongly hitting his competitor's ball during a pro golf tournament, was portrayed by Brian Van Holt. Bobby was a maker and loved inventing games. Domination Ball was not a hit, but Penny Can lives on. Penny Can remains awesome in its simplicity. Throw pennies into a coffee can. When you land a penny, everyone cries out "Penny Can!" It never gets old, I can't explain it! There were countless new and changing rules on the show, as well as a few variants. Truth or Penny Can and Ultimate Penny Can being favorites. In Moving Target Penny Can comedic genius Ian Gomez' character "Andy" would carry the can while the cast threw pennies at him. At one point I regretted not acquiring an official competition Bobby Cobb Penny Can, I believe they are now Lou Diamond Phillips, and less legit. No spinning or lights!! I have a Maxwell House can. I think Bobby would respect it. Read the rest
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Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Listen: The Afghan Whigs' Greg Dulli covers "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"
As a rule, the only Christmas music I can stand is Vince Guaraldi's "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Now though, I can punctuate those exceedingly joyful jazz tunes with my friend Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs doing his hauntingly beautiful take on "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." “I saw Meet Me In St. Louis as a child and this song just stayed with me forever,” Greg said. “It has a spectral quality that I always wanted to exaggerate.” photo by Sam Holden Read the rest
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Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
False Flag: my science fiction story about the future of copyright filters in an Article 13 Europe
The Green European Journal has published a package on the proposed new European Copyright Directive: first, an outstanding interview with the rebel Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda (previously); and then a new science fiction story I've written to show what a future where our speech is governed by unaccountable black-box copyright censorbots might look like: "False Flag." Agata had always assumed that getting the footage would be the hard part. As it turned out, a covert North Sea drone insertion and exfiltration were the *easy* part. Agata and her cell spend months planning the North Sea op, working with a cold haste that balanced the possibility that they would be too late against the possibility that they would be detected and blown. But on the morning, skipping over the shop in the little Zodiac, captained by Oxana, looking all Pussy Riot in her balaclava, Agata knew it was going to work. She pulled out her Toughbook and sparked up the drones, each the size of a firefly, and sent them off to reccy the trawler, using both radar and cameras to capture the undersea nets and follow them for their full 25 kilometer span. It was incredible to behold, and terrible, a vast wickedness that would sterilize the sea as it was dragged behind the trawler, which was flying a Panamanian flag. The drones had just enough power to buzz the ship, getting its registry and flags and automatically zoomed-in shots of the sailors’ faces before the batteries died. Read the rest
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Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
A century ago, two scientists exchanged fantastic microscope slides as Christmas cards
In the early 20th century, Arthur Earland and Edward Heron-Allen volunteered at what's now called the Natural History Museum, London (NHM). The two men spent their time researching fossils of single-celled organisms with shells, called Foraminifera, cataloging the various species, and creating microscope slides of the specimens. But each year when Christmas came around, they transformed their unique interest and skill into a fantastically fun gift exchange. From Smithsonian: These Christmas-themed slides, which the two exchanged over their years of collaboration, had personalized greetings spelled out with microfossils (a term for fossils measuring under 1mm in size) that would be visible under a microscope. One from 1912 has Earland’s initials (“AE”), “XMAS,” and the year in an arrangement that measures about 1cm across. Several examples of their Christmas slides are now in the collections of NHM. The 1912 slide is a part of the museum’s touring exhibition Treasures of the Natural World alongside birds studied by Charles Darwin and an Iguanodon bone described by Richard Owen. More humble than these illustrious objects, the slide is still an incredible work of art and science, with each small fossilized shell carefully selected and delicately attached to the slide using a fine paint brush and Tragacanth gum... Read the rest
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Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Internal sources say googler uprising has killed Google's plans to launch a censored, spying Chinese search engine
The employee uprising over Google's secret "Project Dragonfly -- a plan to release a censored, surveilling search engine for use in China -- has reportedly attained its goals: some of the engineers on the covert team Project Dragonfly team have been re-tasked to other projects, and the remainder have been denied access to the critical data-set that made the project possible. While the project sparked open dissent from thousands of googlers, and waves of resignations, the turning point seems to have been the project's decision to bypass Google's Privacy and Security team, which was described in detail by the departed security engineer Yonatan Zunger; and which led to the creation of a six-figure strike fund raised by Google Site Reliability Engineer Liz Fong-Jones. The decision to bypass the Security and Privacy team led to Project Dragonfly being denied access to data from 265.com, a large Chinese web-portal that Google bought in 2008; this data was being used as a "honeypot" to help the Dragonfly team tune the censorship systems in their product. This data was reportedly key to the creation of Project Dragonfly. Now, deprived of this data and with their headcount in decline, the project is -- according to internal Google sources -- dead. The internal dispute at Google over the 265.com data access is not the first time important information related to Dragonfly has been withheld from the company’s privacy team. The Intercept reported in November that privacy and security employees working on the project had been shut out of key meetings and felt that senior executives had sidelined them. Read the rest
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Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things