Tuesday, 20 March

18:00 EDT

When will the US feel the heat of global warming? [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / Warm, moist air flowing north from the Gulf of Mexico may dominate the Great Plains' response to climate change. (credit: NOAA)

By increasing the energy stored in our atmosphere, climate change is expected to generate more severe storms and heat waves. Severe storms and heat waves, however, also happen naturally. As a result, it's tough to figure out whether any given event is a product of climate change.

A corollary to that is that detecting a signal of climate change using weather events is a serious challenge. Are three nor'easters in quick succession, as the East Coast is now experiencing, a sign of a changing climate? Or is it simply a matter of natural variability?

A team of researchers has now looked at heat waves in the US, trying to determine when a warming-driven signal will stand out above the natural variability. And the answer is that it depends. In the West, the answer is "soon," with climate-driven heat waves becoming the majority in the 2020s. But for the Great Plains, the researchers show that a specific weather pattern will push back the appearance of a warming signal until the 2070s.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Amazon Considers Buying Some Toys R Us Stores [Slashdot]

According to Bloomberg, Amazon has looked at the possibility of expanding its retail footprint by acquiring some locations from bankrupt Toys R Us. "The online giant isn't interested in maintaining the Toys R Us brand, but has considered using the soon-to-be-vacant spaces for its own purposes," reports Bloomberg. From the report: Such a move would let Amazon quickly expand its brick-and-mortar presence, coming on the heels of buying Whole Foods and its more than 450 locations last year. The Seattle-based company also has opened its own line of bookstores and a convenience-store concept. Additional stores would give Amazon space to showcase its popular Echo line of devices, which run on the Alexa voice-activated platform. Amazon sees voice as the next interface for people to access technology -- supplanting computer mouses and touch screens -- and the benefits may be easier to demonstrate in a real-world setting. A bigger network of stores would put inventory closer to where shoppers live, potentially enabling quick delivery to e-commerce customers. The space could also serve as a staging ground for grocery delivery from Whole Foods stores. Amazon is already planning to roll out free two-hour service to Whole Foods customers in four cities, including Dallas and Cincinnati.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Amazon Passes Alphabet To Become the World's Second Most Valuable Company [Slashdot]

Amazon has passed Alphabet to become the second most valuable company in the world. Apple remains the only other company more valuable than Amazon. CNBC reports: The e-commerce giant rose 2.7 percent on Tuesday lifting its stock market value to $768 billion. Alphabet, the parent of Google, fell 0.4 percent and is now valued at $762.5 billion. While the U.S. tech mega-caps have rallied in the past year, Amazon's performance has dwarfed them all, with the stock surging 85 percent over the past 12 months, including 35 percent to start 2018. Investors have been piling into Amazon, betting that the company's growing and very profitable cloud computing business will provide the cash needed for investments in original content, physical stores and continuing to build data centers and warehouses.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Predictable Subtext [Latest Articles]

“Not only did they kill the film, but they killed my cast! Nobody’s gonna want to work with me. Variety called me a pariah,” Roman Bridger (Scott Foley) says after being arrested in Wes Craven’s oft-maligned third installment of the Scream franchise. Bridger’s producer, John Milton (Lance Henriksen), cooly responds, “Hollywood is full of criminals whose careers are flourishing,” an honest tagline for the same Hollywood we find 18 years later.

Scream 3 was so critically panned when it first came out that it took more than 10 years for another Scream to be released, but the slasher film is actually a scathing indictment of how women are treated behind-the-scenes in Hollywood. And 18 years later, the Weinstein Productions film is unsurprisingly relevant to the movie industry’s #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. Like the concluding chapter of any proper trilogy, Scream 3 reveals that the masked killer’s actual impetus for terrorizing Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) was a brutal gang rape at the hands of Hollywood producers, including Milton. Sidney’s mother, Maureen (Lynn McRee), abandoned the child—Roman Bridger—born from that rape, and later refused to claim him. So, Bridger enacts revenge by killing her and embarking on a final rampage in Scream 3.

While many argue that violence against women is the inherent subtext of slasher horror movies, it’s far more rare for a horror movie to outright declare it as Scream 3 does.

David Arquette and Neve Campbell in Scream 3

David Arquette and Neve Campbell in Scream 3 (Photo credit: Dimension Films)

John Milton’s confession echoes the stories we’ve been hearing almost every day since Harvey Weinstein’s predatory behavior came to light:

“It was the ’70s. Everything was different. I was well-known for my parties. [Maureen] knew what they were. It was for girls like her to meet men. Men who could get them parts if they made the right impression. Nothing happened to her that she didn’t invite in one way or another. No matter what she said afterwards. … I’m saying that things got out of hand. Maybe they did take advantage of her. Maybe the sad truth is this is not a city for innocents. No charges were brought. And the bottom line is, [Maureen Prescott] wouldn’t play by the rules. You wanna get ahead in Hollywood? You gotta play the game, or go home.”

My, how little has changed. Milton’s production company eventually makes millions adapting Maureen’s murder into the metatextual Stab series that mirrors Scream. And the many men who sexually and verbally assaulted, harassed, and raped these vulnerable young people also capitalize off of these crimes, with just as little care and compassion as Milton showed after destroying Maureen’s body and career. There is no way to fully gauge how many young women were abused and then discarded in Hollywood as their abusers continued their predatory machinantions with almost full impunity.

They tried to destroy the careers of the people they hurt—look at #TimesUp whistle-blowers Mira Sorvino, Asia Argento, and Rose McGowan, for instance, but how many of their abusers  are in jail cells for their felony crimes? So far, none. The fact that these criminals are not behind bars is a disintegration of the rule of law, and an example of how little the oft-ruined lives and careers of these victims/survivors means to misogynistic and capitalistic media machines—like Hollywood. How many real-life Maureen Prescotts have been terrorized by this system? How many of their names and stories will we never know?

Let’s compare Maureen Prescott’s treatment in the Scream trilogy to another victim/survivor, Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber). When he’s exonerated for Maureen’s murder, Cotton leverages his connection to a mass murder into a kind of pulp fame that leads to recognition and wealth. He was, in a way, compensated for being falsely accused. On the other hand, Maureen, her daughter, and anyone connected with them remain in constant danger. By Scream 3, Cotton’s face is plastered all over billboards in Los Angeles while Sidney Prescott lives in hiding, quietly working as a crisis counselor from a remote mountain home.

Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Danny Masterson, and many other abusers still have thriving careers while their victims are dragged through the mud, disbelieved, and publicly branded with scarlet letters. They’re often forced to drastically alter their lives due to the threats they receive for “sullying” these men’s reputations. After coming forward about being raped by Weinstein, Argento was forced to flee her home in Italy due to death threats. She isn’t the only one. The physical abuse and negligence Uma Thurman suffered on Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill sets will continue to haunt her for the rest of her life. 

Scream 3 illuminated Hollywood’s backstage violence against women by showing how this kind of assault not only ruins the life of the survivor, but ripples out and taints her family, her friends, and others who are only marginally connected to her. Sadly, Scream 3 is exceptional for another terrible reason: It’s also a rare case in which a rape-revenge plot turns on the original victim/survivor. Instead of revenge or justice for what happened to her as a young aspiring actress, Maureen is killed in retribution for a series of violations that were never her fault, no matter what kind of sick unofficial law these Hollywood misogynists created and continue to uphold.

Scream 3 is arguably the most feminist installment of an already feminist franchise. The irony that it was produced by one of Hollywood’s most prolific perverts is beyond stunning; life imitating art imitating life. While behind-the-scenes representation in Hollywood has slowly been diversifying over the past 18 years, it hasn’t been enough to protect the thousands of people who had their own Maureen Prescott moments. Frances McDormand’s call for inclusion riders could certainly help protect vulnerable groups while increasing their visibility both on and off camera. I hope that in the coming years, there will be a permanent end to Hollywood’s rape culture—and a group of women buying The Weinstein Company might be the start of some long overdue justice.

by Sezin Koehler
View profile »

Sezin Koehler is a biracial Sri Lankan American novelist and blogger whose writings have been featured on Wear Your Voice Magazine, Broadly, The Mary Sue, Huffington Post, Ravishly, Sociological Images, Pacific Standard, Ms. Magazine, Al Jazeera, the popular Twin Peaks fansite 25 Years Later, and more. An adult Third Culture Kid, Sezín has lived in 13 countries and 18 cities around the world, and now calls Lighthouse Point, Florida home. You can find her Tweeting about politics, Facebooking about writing and culture, and Instagramming her growing collection of art and tattoos.

Bodies of 39 Kidnapped Indian Workers Found In Mass Grave In Iraq [News : NPR]

Hardeep Sing (left) and Sushwinder Kaur (center) mourn holding portraits of their son Manjinder Singh, one of the 39 Indian workers whose bodies were found buried northwest of Mosul.

DNA analysis of remains prove that the men who were abducted in 2014 were killed. Government officials say the victims, found in a village outside of Mosul, were murdered by ISIS.

(Image credit: Prabhjot Gill/AP)

Classroom Skeleton: Whose Bones Are These? [News : NPR]

Classroom Skeleton: Whose Bones Are These?

Remember that skeleton hanging in the front of your classroom? In some schools, those were actual human remains. We used science to figure out the story behind one of them.

(Image credit: Skunk Bear/Skunk Bear)

Democrats Grill DeVos On Guns, Schools And Money [News : NPR]

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos waits to testify before the House Appropriations Committee on Capitol Hill.

The education secretary was on Capitol Hill to talk about the proposed budget for her department. She got an earful from Democrats.

(Image credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

What Questions Do You Have About Facebook And Your Personal Data? [News : NPR]

How are you feeling about the Facebook data breach?

Facebook is under intense pressure after it admitted that analytics firm Cambridge Analytica got access to millions of users' personal data. NPR wants to know how users are feeling.

(Image credit: NPR)

From Clues To Capture: Forensics, Profiling And The Hunt In Austin [News : NPR]

Authorities examine the scene of a bombing in Austin, Texas, on March 12. A woman in her 70s was injured in the explosion. Officials have said there is a serial bomber attacking the Austin area.

Former FBI agent Mary Ellen O'Toole discusses the role of forensic and behavioral experts in catching a serial criminal in an investigation like the bombing probe in Texas.

(Image credit: Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP/Getty Images)

WH Threatening To Veto Spending Bill If It Includes Money For Northeast Rail Tunnel [News : NPR]

If the century-old rail tunnel into New York City fails, the economic pain will be felt up and down the East Coast. That's why a multi-billion-dollar plan to replace it has been called the most important infrastructure project in the country.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler Discusses Series Of Bombings Happening Throughout City [News : NPR]

NPR's Michel Martin speaks with Austin, Texas Mayor Steve Adler about the series of bombings that have been happening in city.

Texas Law Enforcement Working To Find Motive Behind Austin Bombings [News : NPR]

In Austin, Texas, investigators are trying to figure out why someone is targeting the city with a series of bombs. A fifth package exploded Tuesday morning at a FedEx distribution center.

Austin Community Enacting New Security Measures After Series Of Bombings [News : NPR]

As authorities in Texas investigate the explosion of what is believed to be a fifth bomb, people in Austin are worried. Schools, businesses and residents are putting new security measures in place.

Trump Paid Royal Visit From Saudi Crown Prince [News : NPR]

President Trump greeted the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and praised their growing friendship and increasing arms deals.

President Trump Adds New Lawyer To His Legal Team [News : NPR]

President Trump has added a new lawyer to his legal team — one who's been vocal about attacking the Justice Department. He's not the only member of that legal team to do so.

Former Facebook Insider Says Company Cannot Be Trusted To Regulate Itself [News : NPR]

NPR's Ailsa Chang speaks with Sandy Parakilas, who worked as an operations manager on the platform team at Facebook in 2011 and 2012. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Parakilas says Facebook cannot be trusted to regulate itself.

Facebook's Data Scandal Latest Blow To The Company's Reputation [News : NPR]

Employees have lunch at Facebook

The social media giant is facing more blowback from users, regulators and investors following reports that its user data was misused by a firm that worked for the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.

(Image credit: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images)

Gunman Dead After 2 Students Injured In Maryland High School Shooting [News : NPR]

Police say a student with a hand gun shot two classmates Tuesday morning at a Maryland high school. Officers say the shooter was fatally injured in a shootout with a school resource officer.

Justices Skeptical About California Law Being Challenged By Anti-Abortion Clinics [News : NPR]

Supreme Court justices on both sides of the ideological spectrum expressed skepticism about California's "truth-in-advertising" law requiring anti-abortion clinics to more fully disclose what they are.

Skype now has integrations with TripAdvisor and StubHub [The Verge - All Posts]

Skype has teamed up with TripAdvisor so you can now send travel plans and tips right inside the Skype app. It’s also got a new integration with StubHub, a platform for sporting and concert tickets, that lets you browse and share events. Both add-ins are great for those who still use Skype to make video calls and chat with friends and family. Now you can just send and receive travel plans and tickets without downloading any extra apps beyond Skype.

To activate the add-ins, you have to press the plus sign button and select them from a list of options. Once using the TripAdvisor add-in, you can pick out hotels, restaurants, and other destinations to share in a chat. If you’re using the StubHub add-in, you can search for sports and music...

Continue reading…

Mark Zuckerberg is ‘working around the clock’ on the Cambridge Analytica controversy, Facebook says [The Verge - All Posts]

After nearly four days of silence from top executives on the unfolding controversy around Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of user data, Facebook on Tuesday made a statement about what Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg are doing. “Mark, Sheryl and their teams are working around the clock to get all the facts and take the appropriate action moving forward, because they understand the seriousness of this issue,” Facebook told The Daily Beast. “The entire company is outraged we were deceived. We are committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people’s information and will take whatever steps are required to see that this happens.”

The company’s statement is notable for three reasons. One, it escalates the emotional tone of...

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Audible is finally back on Sonos speakers [The Verge - All Posts]

Audible is finally back on Sonos, after a false alarm two weeks ago when the company mistakingly published a blog post saying the integration was available. Audible is now rolling out on Sonos through the Sonos and Audible apps, giving users an easy way of playing their audiobooks on Sonos hardware.

Sonos One speakers are already compatible with Amazon’s Alexa and Amazon Music, so it was surprising that the Amazon-owned Audible audiobook service has remained absent from the company’s product family for so long. The support was initially removed two years ago when Sonos staff discovered an incompatibility between Audible and Sonos integration after an update.

To celebrate its return, Audible is offering Sonos users two credits if they...

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Orbitz says a possible data breach has affected 880,000 credit cards [The Verge - All Posts]

Travel booking website Orbitz has announced that it discovered a potential data breach that exposed information for thousands of customers, as reported by Engadget. The incident, discovered by the company on March 1st, may have exposed information tied to about 880,000 credit cards.

The consumer data in question is from an older booking platform, where information may have been accessed between October and December 2017. Orbitz partner platform data, such as travel booked via Amex Travel, submitted between January 1st, 2016 and December 22nd, 2017 may have also been compromised. The Expedia-owned company says that names, payment card information, dates of birth, email addresses, physical billing addresses, gender, and phone numbers may...

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Facebook is being investigated by New York and Massachusetts attorneys general over Cambridge Analytica scandal [The Verge - All Posts]

New York and Massachusetts attorneys general are demanding that Facebook hand over information about how Cambridge Analytica used its data. They announced a joint investigation today following reports over the weekend that Cambridge Analytica improperly acquired data on 50 million Facebook users, which it used as part of President Trump’s 2016 campaign.

According to The New York Times and The Observer, the co-founder of Cambridge Analytica, Christopher Wylie, led an initiative starting in 2014 to help political campaigns profile voters. As part of the project, the company harvested data from Facebook through a third-party quiz app.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Attorney General Maura Healey of Massachusetts announced a...

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17:00 EDT

Police Chief: Uber Self-Driving Car 'Likely' Not At Fault In Fatal Crash [Slashdot]

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The chief of the Tempe Police has told the San Francisco Chronicle that Uber is likely not responsible for the Sunday evening crash that killed 49-year-old pedestrian Elaine Herzberg. "I suspect preliminarily it appears that the Uber would likely not be at fault in this accident," said Chief Sylvia Moir. Herzberg was "pushing a bicycle laden with plastic shopping bags," according to the Chronicle's Carolyn Said, when she "abruptly walked from a center median into a lane of traffic." After viewing video captured by the Uber vehicle, Moir concluded that "it's very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode (autonomous or human-driven) based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway." Moir added that "it is dangerous to cross roadways in the evening hour when well-illuminated, managed crosswalks are available." The police said that the vehicle was traveling 38 miles per hour in a 35 mile-per-hour zone, according to the Chronicle -- though a Google Street View shot of the roadway taken last July shows a speed limit of 45 miles per hour along that stretch of road.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

How a Virus Spreads Through an Airplane Cabin [Slashdot]

An anonymous reader shares a report: Traveling by plane greatly increases our chances of getting sick, or so many of us are wont to believe. To be fair, it's not uncommon to come down with a nasty illness after we return from a vacation or business trip. But is flying the culprit? The latest research suggests the answer is no -- but much of it depends on where we sit. New research published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that airline passengers infected with influenza -- a disease that spreads through the air -- aren't likely to infect other passengers who sit more than two seats to the left or right, or more than two seats in front or back. In other words, your chances of contracting the flu from an infected passenger are slim -- unless you're sitting within about three feet (one meter) of them. Given that three billion of us fly annually, combined with the popular conception that we often contract diseases inflight, it's surprising to learn that very few studies have looked into this issue in detail.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Pornhub confirms Fortnite as their top searched video game [Boing Boing]

Fortnite is the most popular game to be searched about in Pornhub's online database of videos. I am not sure what that means, really. While I am enthusiastic about both forms of entertainment-art I find their intersection to be a bit confusing.

There are a lot of great stats and tables about what people are searching for, to answer their Fortnite related pornographic need.

Via PornHub:

The most popular Fortnite related searches include “hentai”, “battle royale”, “animation” and “strip”. Following some viral videos on YouTube, “try not to nut fornite” also became a popular search. “SFM” is a term often combined with game searches (see Overwatch Insights).

16:00 EDT

Mississippi law on abortion after 15 weeks [Philip Greenspun's Weblog]

There is nothing that my Massachusetts- and California-based Facebook friends like better than heaping abuse on Americans who are too stupid to live on the coasts (Gulf Coast doesn’t count as a Big Brain Coast!). The latest issue that excites them is an abortion law update in the South: “Mississippi Governor Signs Nation’s Toughest Abortion Ban Into Law” (NPR). The law restricts abortions after 15 weeks of gestation.

Premature babies were one topic that we studied last month during my sojourn at the local medical school. Preterm babies can be expensive, so much so that self-insured employers will try to avoid paying for fertility services, such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF), due to the risk that triplets will be born and punch a $300,000 hole in their budget (not all triplets are dramatically premature, of course, but $300,000 is the average cost).

We learned that, from a medical point of view, babies can be viable and will receive treatment after 22 or 23 weeks of gestation (about 70 percent will survive; some babies are surviving birth after only 21 weeks of gestation; a recent example from England). There is an ICD-10 code for babies born at less than 23 weeks.

Here in Massachusetts, abortion is available without any reason through 24 weeks of gestation (the law), but also beyond that date “if a continuation of her pregnancy will impose on her a substantial risk of grave impairment of her physical or mental health.” I’m not sure why, in practice, this leads to any restrictions on abortion. What is likely more harmful to mental health than having a kid, whose own physical and mental health cannot be known in advance, around 24/7? What is more likely to interfere with regular gym visits and other physical health-promoting activities than being responsible for a child? (Note that, based on our interviews with family law attorneys, Massachusetts is one of the U.S. states in which it is most common for abortions to be sold at a discount to the net present value of projected child support cashflow; see “Child Support Litigation without a Marriage”)

So… U.S. society is now at the point where we have people who are outraged if anyone proposes limiting spending on extremely premature babies (a bill of $2-5 million for one child would not be unusual), but they’re also outraged if anyone proposes to restrict the ability of a woman to choose an abortion several weeks after the gestational age at which babies are currently viable (given unlimited health care spending).

This reminds me a bit of a “meet the midwives” event at Mt. Auburn Hospital here in Cambridge a few years ago. Given that it was Cambridge, it seems safe to assume that the audience was at least 94 percent faithful Democrats who supported abortion at 24 weeks (6.5 percent of Cambridge voted deplorably in the 2016 election). Yet they talked about their own 12-16-week pregnancies as though the developing children were already fully human and very nearly out and about.

Readers: Let’s assume that, given the money being poured into this area of treatment, technology and technique will keep advancing such that younger and younger babies are medically viable. Instead of 70 percent of babies being viable at 23 weeks, for example, we’d have a 98-percent survival rate (maybe for $20 million per baby) and 85 percent of children born at 22 weeks would survive. Would that lead to voters and legislators who are currently happy with the 24-week limit changing their minds?


How to lose Jewish friends on Facebook [Philip Greenspun's Weblog]

A Facebook friend linked to “Should there be a Jewish Inclusion Rider?”

… Frances McDormand, … taught us all a new phrase: Inclusion rider. Within minutes of her speech, the phrase was trending on twitter. News outlets spent the ensuing days explaining the term, and interviewing media researcher Stacy Smith, the woman who coined it.

In a nutshell, the inclusion rider is a clause that actors can ask to be included in their contract, demanding at least 50 per cent diversity in the contributors to a film, be it performers or crew. The idea is that a film should accurately reflect, both on and off screen, the demography of the location in which it is set and/or made.

I wondered what an inclusion rider would look like in the Jewish community. And, in particular, how it would impact on the inclusion and representation of women. What would happen, for example, if every man offered a role in a Jewish communal organisation insisted that the organisation accurately reflected the demographics of our community? What would happen, if every male speaker at a communal event insisted that there were an equal number of female speakers? What would happen, if every time a man was invited to appear on a panel, he insisted that an equal number of women were invited too, finally putting an end to the depressingly ubiquitous “manel”.

So to any men reading this, I ask the question. The next time you are invited to speak at a shul event, will you ask how often women are also invited to speak? The next time you are asked to become a trustee of a communal organisation, will you check how many women sit on the board before making your decision?

Here’s my comment on the article:

If she is passionate about diversity, rather than quotas set aside for Jewish women, would it make more sense to have quotas for Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, etc. at the gatherings that she describes?

[One area where my Facebook friend does not seem to want a quota for Jewish women is in wage-earning. Although her children are now grown and there would be no obstacle to her taking a job, she lets her husband bring home 98 percent of the family’s income.]

NY says Charter lied about new broadband, threatens to revoke its franchise [Ars Technica]

(credit: Cole Marshall)

New York government officials have threatened to terminate Charter Communications' franchise agreements with New York City, saying the cable company failed to meet broadband construction requirements and may not have paid all of its required franchise fees.

The NY Public Service Commission said Charter should pay a $1 million fine for missing a deadline to expand its broadband network statewide and is questioning Charter over declines in franchise fees paid to New York City.

"It is critically important that regulated companies strictly adhere to the state's rules and regulations," PSC Chairman John Rhodes said in an announcement yesterday. "If a regulated entity like Charter's cable business decides to violate or ignore the rules, we will take swift action and hold [it] accountable to the full extent of the law."

Read 25 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, explained [Updated] [Ars Technica]

(credit: JD Lasica)

Update: Cambridge Analytica has suspended CEO Alexander Nix. In addition to controversy over unauthorized access to private Facebook data, Nix is also facing a scandal over comments captured by hidden cameras. In those videos, Nix boasts about using dirty tricks—including staged bribery attempts and sending prostitutes to seduce political opponents—to win elections.

Facebook is reeling from a series of revelations about private user data being leaked to Cambridge Analytica, a shadowy political consulting firm that did work for the Donald Trump campaign.

Last Friday, reporters from The New York Times and The Observer of London told Facebook that Cambridge had retained copies of private data for about 50 million Facebook users. Facebook says Cambridge promised in 2015 that the data would be deleted. Facebook responded to the new revelations by banning Cambridge and several of its associates from Facebook.

Read 27 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Dealmaster: Take up to 30 percent off various Lenovo ThinkPad laptops [Ars Technica]

Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we have another round of deals to share. Today's list brings the usual smorgasbord of laptop and desktop sales, including a number of discounts on Lenovo ThinkPad laptops.

Note that most of the ThinkPads here use last year's 7th-gen Core processors, so they're not as powerful as notebooks with Intel's quad-core 8th-gen chips, but you can still get a work-friendly machine like the ThinkPad T470s or 5th-gen ThinkPad X1 Carbon for much less than their newer counterparts. (The latter shouldn't be affected by any overheating issues at this point, either.)

If you have no interest there, we also have deals on numerous Dell laptops and desktops, Nintendo's Switch Pro Controller, and the HTC Vive, plus a sitewide eBay sale.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

China’s largest game publisher adds Ubisoft to its massive portfolio [Ars Technica]

(credit: Ubisoft)

Ubisoft's protracted financial battle with French media company Vivendi ended on Tuesday with a surprise announcement: effective immediately, Vivendi is out of Ubisoft's financial picture. In order to retain its corporate structure, Vivendi's shares in the company have been bought up—and one of the biggest buyers, as it turns out, is major Chinese gaming publisher Tencent.

The other buyers involved include Ubisoft itself, which has bought up the majority of Vivendi's former shares, and the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan. Vivendi, which formerly owned a whopping 27.3 percent stake in Ubisoft, has additionally pledged not to buy any Ubisoft stock for the next five years.

Tuesday's news ends a 2.5-year attempt by Vivendi to brute-force its way to owning a majority of Ubisoft through stock acquisition. That hostile takeover attempt, in part, forced Ubisoft co-founder Michel Guillemot to resign from Ubisoft-affiliated mobile-game publisher Gameloft in 2016.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The Play Store gets a “try now” button for games, no install required [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / Should you bother installing this? Just hit the "try now" button!

The annual Game Developers Conference is happening this week, and Google is celebrating by bringing its "Instant apps" feature to games on the Play Store. You'll be able to instantly try a very small number of Android games before installing them, via a "Try Now" button listed in the Play Store. This is the same "Instant Apps" technology that has been around for apps, but now Google is launching it for games, too, as "Google Play Instant."

The idea behind the program is that installing an app is a big barrier to entry to users, and removing this barrier will result in more people trying more apps and games. An "Instant Apps" program is something Google has been experimenting with for some time. In 2015, the company launched its first swing at such a project, called "Streaming Apps." This feature would run an Android app on Google's servers, stream a live video feed to the user, and stream clicks back to the Google server.

In 2016, Streaming Apps was scrapped and replaced with today's "Instant Apps" technology. Instant Apps streams the actual app code to a device and runs it in an ephemeral sandbox. For instant apps to work, developers need to modularize apps using the Android SDK, which can help break the app down into 10MB chunks that can easily be streamed to the user. The result is an app or game that can start up instantly, but the small size often means you are limited to certain features. It's usually enough to try out the app or game, and if users venture outside the features of the instant version of the app, an install box will pop up, allowing them to easily get the full version.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Mark Zuckerberg AWOL From Facebook's Data Leak Damage Control Session [Slashdot]

An anonymous reader writes: It's not just that he's silent in public. Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg declined to face his employees on Tuesday to explain the company's role in a widening international scandal over the 2016 election. Facebook employees on Tuesday got the opportunity for an internal briefing and question-and-answer session about Facebook's role with the Trump-aligned data firm Cambridge Analytica. It was the first the company held to brief and reassure employees after, ahead of damaging news reports, Facebook abruptly suspended Cambridge Analytica. But Zuckerberg himself wasn't there, The Daily Beast has learned. Instead, the session was conducted by a Facebook attorney, Paul Grewal, according to a source familiar with the meeting. That was the same approach the company used on Capitol Hill this past fall, when it sent its top attorney, Colin Stretch, to brief Congress about the prevalence of Russian propaganda, to include paid ads and inauthentic accounts, on its platform. Further reading: Where in the world is Mark Zuckerberg? Frustrated Facebook execs are asking.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ben Carson now blaming his own wife for the $31,000 dining set [Boing Boing]

Nothing like a husband who throws his own wife under the bus. And that's just what "The Honorable Ben Carson" (yes, take a look, his desk placard actually says that!) did when he explained to a House committee hearing today that his wife, Candy, was the one who bought the $31,000 mahogany dining set for his office without his knowledge.

“If it were up to me my office would probably look like a hospital waiting room, but at any rate, I invited my wife to come along and help me," the good doctor says, referring to redecorating his office.

He then says that the old dining set was dangerous, with nails sticking out of it, and needed to be replaced, so he was given a catalog to look at. "The prices were beyond what I wanted to pay, I made it clear that that just didn't seem right to me, and I left it with my wife."

And then it was the wifey who purchased the outrageously priced dining set, which he knew nothing about, because, well, he had so many other more important things to do. Wow, with husbands like that, who needs husbands?

Fantastic $13 set of accessories for using and cleaning your cast iron [Boing Boing]

These three tools are invaluable when cleaning up, or cooking with, your cast iron skillet.

This threesome of scraper, chainmail scrubber and a silicone hot-handle-holder is pretty great. I use all three of these tools frequently, and certainly paid more for them individually. The pot-handle and hard plastic scraper are wear items and will eventually be tossed, but the chainmail should outlast you.

Chainmail will not hurt your cast iron.

Stainless Steel Chainmail Scrubber XL 8x6, Cast-iron Cleaner + Silicone Hot Handle Holder via Amazon

Image via Amazon

I wish to see this version of The Little Mermaid [Pharyngula]

Ariel as an eldritch abomination:

Disney does remakes, I know. I might be slightly worried that they’ll do this one as a live-action remake, ushering in the Age of the Old Ones.


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