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Cat enjoys nesting in Christmas Tree

🎄🐣 Meet AngelBengal.

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It’s the most wonderful time of nesting cats🎄🐣 #AngelBengal #weeklyfluff

A post shared by Angel Bengal (@angelbengal) on Nov 28, 2018 at 10:01am PST

Sorry I eated your cookies!

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Sorry Santa, I got hungry and ate your cookies 😋🍪🥛 #AngelBengal

A post shared by Angel Bengal (@angelbengal) on Dec 18, 2018 at 6:08am PST

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When I’m hungry I can’t contain myself 😄🍽🎄#AngelBengal #SorryNotSorry #weeklyfluff

A post shared by Angel Bengal (@angelbengal) on Nov 24, 2018 at 8:25am PST

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Posted on 19 December 2018 | 2:05 am

Very Good Boy (tap tap tap)

This may be a potty dance, but it's the most adorable potty dance ever.

This is a very good dog.

Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap (fixed)

And here's a more upstream original version, no cropping.

Good boy

[via] Read the rest

Posted on 19 December 2018 | 1:03 am

Holiday carols, one-handed guitar, stump duct tape pick

“I was born without my right hand and play guitar with a duct tape pick I made,” says IMGURian abshow. “I play drums too!”

Here is the ABShow YouTube channel.

This is a clip of my drum cover of Pentatonix' version of this Christmas classic! Hope you enjoy -- feel free to SHARE and let me know your thoughts below! Check out the rest of my channel to see how I do other things with only one hand!

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A clip of my drum (one handed) cover of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman” by @ptxofficial 🥁🎄

A post shared by YouTube/Abshow (@abshow) on Dec 13, 2018 at 2:58pm PST

Pretty excellent. Follow @abshow on Instagram:

• @abshowA clip of my drum (one handed) cover of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman” by @ptxofficial 🥁🎄

A wonderful series of questions and answers with the artist follow in this IMGUR thread.

One Handed Guitar (Duct Tape Pick)

Read the rest

Posted on 19 December 2018 | 12:42 am

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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 8:33 pm

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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 7:39 pm

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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 7:36 pm

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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 7:31 pm

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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 7:17 pm

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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 7:02 pm

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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 6:41 pm

Judge delays Michael Flynn sentencing for lying to FBI

Lock him up.

Donald Trump's disgraced former national security advisor Gen. Michael Flynn went to court today to be sentenced for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Sergei Kislyak, the former Russian ambassador to the United States.

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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 6:12 pm

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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 6:11 pm

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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 6:08 pm

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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 6:06 pm

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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 6:04 pm

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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 5:58 pm

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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 5:55 pm

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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 5:47 pm

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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 5:47 pm

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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 5:17 pm

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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 4:56 pm

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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 4:39 pm

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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 4:30 pm

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 $16,613 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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 4:23 pm

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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 4:10 pm

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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 4:01 pm

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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 4:00 pm

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.

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Posted on 18 December 2018 | 3:50 pm

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).

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Posted on 18 December 2018 | 3:47 pm

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 availability -- 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

Posted on 18 December 2018 | 3:20 pm