Saturday, 28 March


MPAA and RIAA’s Megaupload Lawsuits Remain on Hold [TorrentFreak]

When the U.S. Government shut down Megaupload in 2012, Internet traffic volumes dropped all over the world.

The destruction of one of the largest file-hosting services came as a shock to hundreds of millions of users, but particularly to the key players involved.

While the authorities had hoped to resolve the case swiftly, the opposite happened. Aside from Andrus Nomm’s plea deal years ago, there hasn’t been any progress in the criminal proceedings against Megaupload’s founder and his co-indicted associates.

After more than eight years, it is still not clear whether Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and his associates will ever stand trial in the US. They have and continue to fight this request tooth and nail in New Zealand.

While all parties await the outcome, which could take several more years, the criminal case in the United States remains pending. The same goes for the civil cases launched by the MPAA and RIAA in 2014.

This brings us to two new filings Megaupload’s legal team submitted at a Virginia federal court this week. The defunct file-sharing platform requests to keep the RIAA and MPAA cases on hold for at least six more months, noting the lack of movement in the criminal case.

“The Criminal Action is still pending, and none of the individual defendants have been extradited,” writes Megaupload attorney Craig C. Reilly, asking the court to stay the cases.

This request and the court’s swift approval to extend the delay until October doesn’t come as a surprise. The MPAA and RIAA didn’t object to it and similar requests have been granted more than a dozen times already.

The civil cases are not expected to start until after the criminal case in the U.S. has been ‘resolved.’ That can take several more years. Meanwhile, data from Megaupload’s servers remains securely stored, possibly to serve as evidence in the future.

Previously there have been attempts to make it possible for millions of former Megaupload users to retrieve their personal files. However, in recent years there hasn’t been any update on this front.

Similarly, the U.S. Department of Justice announced eight years ago that it would work on a solution to allow rightsholders to check whether their content was shared on Megaupload or related sites. Today, this feature is still listed as being “under construction.”

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.


Link [Scripting News]

This video from Saudi Arabia demonstrates how CV spreads in the most memorable way I've seen.

Link [Scripting News]

Those of us who are locked down should know that our lockdown doesn't really begin until every state in the country does it.


Pluralistic: 28 Mar 2020 [Pluralistic: Daily links from Cory Doctorow]

Today's links

  1. Charter techs get $25 gift cards instead of hazard pay: No hand-san or PPE, either.
  2. The Pandemic Playbook: Trump won't rtfm.
  3. Boardgame Remix Kit: Make 26 new games out of Monopoly, Clue, Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble sets.
  4. McMansion Hell visits 1972: "Architecture store? I'd like one of everything."
  5. Free Cheapass Games print-and-plays: KILL DOCTOR LUCKY, GIVE ME THE BRAIN, LORD OF THE FRIES, UNEXPLODED COW and so many more!
  6. Trump officials killed Walmart opioid prosecutions: With help from Jones Day.
  7. United gets $25B stimulus and announces layoffs: The biggest corporate giveaway in history.
  8. FLICC vs denialism: A taxonomy of scientific denial, just in time.
  9. This Waifu Does Not Exist: Autogenned anime characters, with backstories.
  10. Fever cameras are garbage: It's the pivot-to-covid for grifty police enablers.
  11. Employers scramble to buy remote-worker spyware: Even if you're paying for the product, you're the product.
  12. Canada Reads Q&A on Apr 23: Unfortunately, it's on Facebook.
  13. Cowboy Economist on covid stimulus: Congress doesn't spend taxes, it spends and then taxes.
  14. 88 Names podcast: Talking VR, AR and gold farming with Matt Ruff.
  15. This day in history: 2005, 2010, 2015, 2019
  16. Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming appearances, current writing projects, current reading

Charter techs get $25 gift cards instead of hazard pay (permalink)

My local, unremittingly terrible ISP is Charter. You might remember them as the company whose CEO insisted that all workers, even those who could work from home, show up for work and give each other coronavirus.

But of course, many of Charter's employees can't work from home: they're coming to our homes, risking potentially lethal infections, to keep our internet running while we're all stuck indoors.

Now, Charter gets incalculable government subsidies (free/low-cost access to rights of way that could not be purchased on the open market) and got billions in tax breaks from Trump (pissed away on stock buybacks).

You'd think they'd have some dough to give to the workers risking their lives to keep the packets flowing.

Think again.

Those workers are getting $25 gift cards in lieu of hazard pay. They're not getting masks or gloves or hand sanitizer.

Charter spokesapologist Cameron Blanchard insisted that field techs were really happy about this: "The response from the technicians to all our recent changes, along with the gift card gesture has been very positive."

He says they hope to have gloves, masks and hand-sanitizer in the next few weeks.

AT&T is paying techs 20% hazard pay. Charter is sending techs out even for "nonessential" house-calls.

The Pandemic Playbook (permalink)

In The Fifth Risk, Michael Lewis describes how the core US civil service is made up of extremely passionate nerds, people who are very smart about their domain of expertise, and work quietly and tirelessly to see policy that comports with evidence.

This is what makes them "the reality based community," the term Karl Rove is said to have used to disparage those who claimed (correctly) that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan would be a perpetual, destablizing quagmire.

The thing is, grifting is incompatible with objective truth. The job of a grifter is to tell you his building is ten stories taller than it actually is, that his inauguration crowd was larger than it actually was, that his infomercial service is actually a "university."

The grifter president is surrounded by a grifter upper echelon, sociopaths whose power and wealth derive from lying like crazy and stealing from people. To put it mildly, these people do not value expertise.

That explains a lot about the pandemic. Specifically, why therecommendations in the "Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents" (AKA "the pandemic playbook") were not followed.

This is a 69-page report created by the NSC in 2016. The Obama NSC chief briefed the incoming Trump official on the playbook in 2017, and that official seems to have wiped his ass with it and flushed it.

It literally explains, step by step, how to administer a crisis like this, from the earliest glimmerings that it might occur, right through a full-blown pandemic. It mobilizes resources, identifies shortages, and coordinates comms and strategy. It is, in other words, a meaningful set of steps that the US government could have taken to head off the virus. We taxpayers paid handsomely to develop it. Now we're paying again because Trump ignored it.

Boardgame Remix Kit (permalink)

It's been a decade since Hide & Seek released its absolutely brilliant "Boardgame Remix Kit": rules for new games using tokens and boards from Monopoly, Clue, Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble sets.

Now, the 26-part ruleset has been released as a free download for a world of locked-down families looking for ways to entertain themselves. These games are MUCH better than the originals!

McMansion Hell visits 1972 (permalink)

It's always a great day when McMansion Hell does a new post – and it's a very good day when it's one of her long-ass posts, and it's a very very good day when it's a long post dunking on a shitty 70s McMansion.

Wagner is working her way through McMansions of the 1970s — proto-McMs, if you will. Last time, it was this rough beast shambling forth from 1971:

Now, she's moved one year forward, to a 4900sqft, $1.13m 4-bedroom in Denton County, TX. Though it's had some 2000s-era renos, there's a lot of 1970s McEnergy shining through in this monstrosity.

This house has got it all: oversized furniture that looks tiny in giant rooms, giant furniture that looks comical in tiny rooms, but best of all is the view from the rear. As Wagner writes, "Hello, Architecture Store? I'll take one of everything, please!"

Free Cheapass Games print-and-plays (permalink)

Back in 1995, James Ernest, a Wizards of the Coast games designer, quit to found his own company, Cheapass Games, whose philosophy was that gamers had plenty of dice and pawns lying around and all they needed to play new games was ingenious rules.

A quarter century later, Cheapass celebrated with "Cheapass Games in Black and White," a stunning retrospective hardcover with all of its many, many games:

In celebration of the book, the company released its original games as free, print-and-play downloads: KILL DOCTOR LUCKY, GIVE ME THE BRAIN, LORD OF THE FRIES, UNEXPLODED COW and so many more!

This is a serious bounty!

Trump officials killed Walmart opioid prosecutions (permalink)

From 2006-2014, Walmart was America's number one opioid distributor, dispensing millions of lethal doses in response to prescriptions from doctors so obviously crooked that every other pharmacy in America had blacklisted them.

Walmart's own pharmacists begged HQ for permission to blacklist these docs, but these pleas were refused by top execs who told them they should focus on "driving sales."

The DEA was all set to criminally and civilly charge Walmart, a one-two combo that took account of the fact that the company has gigantic cash reserves that would be barely scratched even by a very large fine.

Walmart, in turn, hired the notorious enablers of Jones Day, a giant corporate lawfirm whose partners were hired in great numbers to serve in Trump's DoJ. Walmart's internal and external legal teams are well-stocked with ex-DoJ top officials.

Trump appointees, working with these revolving-door types, killed the criminal charges against Walmart, despite the massive trove of evidence showing that the company deliberately – and for years – knowingly peddled opioids to people whose lives were at risk from them.

Top Trump DoJ brass refused to help prosecutors force Walmart to comply with subpoenas, then ordered prosecutors to drop the criminal charges, and kept setting up long delays for civil court cases, allowing the statute of limitations to run out for many of Walmart's murders.

Now the civil suit is in "negotiations" for a wrist-slap. The DoJ lost prosecutors whose stinging resignation letters reveal that they were disgusted with impunity for well-connected corporate murderers.

The coverage in Propublica is amazing: they have the receipts – internal Walmart, DoJ and Trump administration memos – even Ivanka's work laundering Walmart's reputation even as prosecutors were trying to wring settlements out of the company.

United gets $25B stimulus and announces layoffs (permalink)

The covid stimulus is gonna put cash in the hands of people reeling from economic collapse, which is important, but it's also putting trillions into corporate coffers, which is why AOC called it "shameful."

AOC: "One of the largest corporate bailouts with as few strings as possible in American history. Shameful! The greed of that fight is wrong for crumbs for our families."

Congress is politely asking the bailed out companies to forebear on layoffs, but if the companies renege on that, their public-money gift turns into a super-low-interest loan, and their workers are out on their asses.

In fact, many of those companies (the ones that sell bonds to the USG instead of getting loans) can use public money to pay dividends to shareholders, cash out top execs, and STILL lay off workers

Would companies do that? Seems likely: "Over the past 2 years, corporate America has engaged in an unprecedented orgy of capital payouts to shareholders – S&P 500 companies paid out $2.6 trillion, or almost 7% of GDP, to shareholders over those two years" -Marcus Stanley

United didn't wait until the ink was dry. As soon as they were guaranteed $25B in government handouts, they announced layoffs effective after the Sept 30 penalty period is over.

"Congress is full of a bunch of fucking morons." -Matt Stoller

FLICC vs denialism (permalink)

Since 2013, John Cook has been researching and speaking on countering scientific denial, using the FLICC model: "Fake experts, Logical fallacies, Impossible expectations, Cherry picking, and Conspiracy theories."

Since then, the model has grown in sophistication, through collaboration with Cook's colleagues on a mobile game called "Cranky Uncle" where "cartoons and gameplay interactively explain denial techniques used to cast doubt on climate science."

The new, more granular version of FLICC comes together in a three-part, must-watch video series:

As right-wing strongmen have leaned into virus denial as a way of buoying up the stock market, risking lives at genocidal scale, we are locked in a new life-or-death battle over evidence, reality and expertise. This is very timely indeed.

This Waifu Does Not Exist (permalink)

A recent addition to the genre of semi-lucid media created by Generative Adversarial Networks is "This Waifu Does Not Exist," which creates very plausible anime faces accompanied by much less plausible storylines for those characters.

The creator used the Danbooru2017/​Danbooru2018 corpus, "~2.5tb of 3.33m images with 92.7m tag instances (of 365k defined tags, ~27.8/image) covering Danbooru 2005-2018"

The images and text generated by the system are CC0.

I can't stop hitting reload:

Fever cameras are garbage (permalink)

Grifters gonna grift, part MMMCCCLII: those "fever detection" cameras don't detect fevers, and also rely on super-dodgy facial recognition and other techniques to accuse people of having fevers.

Even if they did work, they'd only catch symptomatic people, and of course, the thing that makes covid so dangerous is that most people who have it are asymptomatic. Looking for fevers is the epidemiological equivalent of searching for your car keys under a lamppost because it's too dark to search where you dropped 'em.

The cameras are a covid-pivot for the scummiest CCTV/predictive policing/bootlicker/arms dealer companies serving American police forces, who generally get to buy this stuff without public notice or oversight.

And while covid makes the usual police procurement procedures (like lavish meals and free massages at trade shows) unavailable, I'll bet a testicle* that there are some high-dollar "incentives" changing hands with the cops writing the checks here.

*Not one of mine

(Image: Moses, CC BY, modified)

Employers scramble to buy remote-worker spyware (permalink)

Apparently we're all in this together, which is why your employer expects you to turn your home into a satellite office for free.

But that solidarity is firmly unidirectional: your boss doesn't trust you to work from his rent-free satellite office (your spare room/kitchen/garage) without slacking, which is why employers are binge-spending on remote spyware:

These are tools that watch your every keystroke and peer endlessly at you from your webcam to monitor your activity, even as your browser traffic (on that internet connection you're paying for) is surveilled, analyzed and logged.

Naturally, the CEOs and top managers who require you to install this stuff don't have to run it on their computers for their Boards of Directors to monitor.

It's a neat example of two dystopian technological principles: first, it epitomizes the shitty tech adoption curve – the idea that our worst tech is perfected and normalized by imposing it on powerless people, and then new generations are visited upon ever-more-powerful people.

This kind of remote monitoring software started off as a way for parents to spy on their kids, then became a tool for educational institutions to use for remote-proctoring of exams, then a way for prospective employers to conduct job interview tests.

From little kids to university students to jobseekers — now it's white-collar workers. That's a pretty steep shitty tech adoption curve right there.

But it also illustrates the fallacy that "if you're not paying for the product, you're the product." The reality is, "If a corporation can turn you into the product, you're the product, even if you're paying."

The John Deere tractors that farmers have to pay huge fees to have authorized service for, even for repairs they could make themselves? They're not ad-supported freemiums: they're six-figure industrial equipment.

Likewise, Apple doesn't mine your Iphone data, but it sure as fuck extracts monopoly rents from you by selling access to you through its mandatory App Store to software developers, and forcing you to use authorized Apple service and parts.

The idea that "surveillance capitalism" is an epiphenomenon of "surveillance" and not of "capitalism" is a fallacy. Shareholder neoliberal capitalism is just sociopathy with spreadsheets. Companies spy on you because they can, not because you're not paying them.

Your employer expects rent-free facilities and free capex that comes out of your pocket and it expects to spy on you.

The reason they expect that is that you're not in a union and labor protection is weak and the job market is cratering, so they know you have no choice.

Anything we do to poor people and powerless people in this pandemic will be done to rich people within a decade. Remember that the next time you think, "Well, at least it's not happening to me."

(Image: Cryteria, CC-BY, modified)

Canada Reads Q&A on Apr 23 (permalink)

I'm a zuckervegan: No Facebook, Instagram or Whatsapp. But you gotta meet people where they are, not where you wish they were.

That's why I signed up to do CBC's Canada Reads Facebook live event, with some support from the CBC:

On Apr 23 at 2PM Eastern, you can read into a pre-written Q&A with me about my Canada Reads finalist Radicalized on the Canada Reads FB group, and I'll be online from 2PM-3PM, on a phone-link with a CBCer who will relay your questions to me and post my answers to the forum.

I hope those of you who aren't yet zuckervegans will tune in, and then immediately resign from all Facebook products (or at least think about why you're using them). And don't worry if you ARE a zuckervegan: we'll post the Q&A on the actual internet afterwards.

Cowboy Economist on covid stimulus (permalink)

I love The Cowboy Economist, economist JT Harvey's drawling alter-ego who explains Modern Monetary Theory using hilarious old west metaphors:

He's just released a covid stimulus episode called "Paying COVID-19 to go away," explaining how Congress could find trillions in the sofa cushions without insisting that the money first be paid into its coffers through taxation.

It's 3.5 minutes well spent. Tldr: Congress spends money first, then taxes it back. It doesn't need to tax us to pay for services any more than Starbucks needs to wait until you've cashed in your gift card before it can issue one to me.

88 Names podcast (permalink)

The brilliant writer Matt Ruff just published a new heist novel about gold-farming and MMORPGs called 88 NAMES that's like Snow Crash meets The King and I:

Matt's doing a podcast about the book with Blake Collier, and I appeared in the latest episode:

We cover a lot of ground: "the state of tech and how it influences everything from economics to the environment, how fiction shapes VR and AR tech and closed tech systems like Apple…We dive deep on some philosophical and technical ideas."

I hope you'll listen, but even more, I hope you'll read Matt's book. It's outstanding.

Direct MP3 link:–_Cory_Doctorow_mixdown.mp3

This day in history (permalink)

#15yrsago McD's will pay rappers for name-checking Big Macs

#15yrsago Mark Cuban will fund Grokster's legal battle*/

#10yrsago UK government wants to secretly read your postal mail

#10yrsago UK government's smoke-filled room legislative process

#10yrsago Douglas Adams lecture

#10yrsago Battlefield Earth screenwriter apologises

#5yrsago Prisoner escapes by faking an email ordering his release

#5yrsago What it's like to teach evolution at the University of Kentucky

#1yrago How hedge funds, Goldman Sachs, and corrupt executives used Gymboree's chaotic bankruptcy to cash out while destroying the careers of loyal employees

#1yrago AOC is going to Appalachia to talk to coal miners

#1yrago Millennials are killing McMansions

#1yrago Sting operation: the NRA explains to white nationalist Australian political party how to deflect gun control calls after a massacre

Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources: Vinay Gupta (, Kottke (, Stefan Jones (, Slashdot (Slashdot), Naked Capitalism (, Beyond the Beyond (

Currently writing: I'm getting geared up to start work my next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation.

Currently reading: Just started Lauren Beukes's forthcoming Afterland: it's Y the Last Man plus plus, and two chapters in, it's amazeballs. Last month, I finished Andrea Bernstein's "American Oligarchs"; it's a magnificent history of the Kushner and Trump families, showing how they cheated, stole and lied their way into power. I'm getting really into Anna Weiner's memoir about tech, "Uncanny Valley." I just loaded Matt Stoller's "Goliath" onto my underwater MP3 player and I'm listening to it as I swim laps.

Latest podcast: Data – the new oil, or potential for a toxic oil spill?

Upcoming appearances:

Upcoming books: "Poesy the Monster Slayer" (Jul 2020), a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Pre-order here:

(we're having a launch for it in Burbank on July 11 at Dark Delicacies and you can get me AND Poesy to sign it and Dark Del will ship it to the monster kids in your life in time for the release date).

"Attack Surface": The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020.

"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden:

This work licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. That means you can use it any way you like, including commerically, provided that you attribute it to me, Cory Doctorow, and include a link to

Quotations and images are not included in this license; they are included either under a limitation or exception to copyright, or on the basis of a separate license. Please exercise caution.

How to get Pluralistic:

Blog (no ads, tracking, or data-collection):

Newsletter (no ads, tracking, or data-collection):

Mastadon (no ads, tracking, or data-collection):

Twitter (mass-scale, unrestricted, third-party surveillance and advertising):

Tumblr (mass-scale, unrestricted, third-party surveillance and advertising):

When live gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla -Joey "Accordion Guy" DeVilla


Link [Scripting News]

This time thanks to Trump the entire country is ground zero.

What viral means [Scripting News]

I heard someone parrot what the president said about how car accidents kill 65K people a year, yet we don't shut down the car industry. So why do we all have to hibernate in isolation while the scientists find a treatment or a vaccine for this killer disease, Covid-19. I suppose it's good to explain, one time, in one place, why a virus is different from a car accident, using Twitter as an example.

Most things I post on Twitter are not viral. One or two people may RT it, and that's it. Once in a while I post something does go viral. That means a few people RT to people who then RT it to people who then RT it, etc. Sooner or later 100K people have seen my stupid little tweet. Covid-19 is like that. If you have it, and you don't isolate, you will give it to 3 other people, and they will give it to 3 more people, and so on. Very quickly a million people have it. It goes viral. I'm sure Trump has used that word perhaps without really understanding what it means.

Now why is that a problem? We'll answer that in the next lesson.

88 Names podcast [Cory Doctorow's]

The brilliant writer Matt Ruff just published a new heist novel about gold-farming and MMORPGs called 88 NAMES that’s like Snow Crash meets The King and I:

Matt’s doing a podcast about the book with Blake Collier, and I appeared in the latest episode:

We cover a lot of ground: “the state of tech and how it influences everything from economics to the environment, how fiction shapes VR and AR tech and closed tech systems like Apple…We dive deep on some philosophical and technical ideas.”

I hope you’ll listen, but even more, I hope you’ll read Matt’s book. It’s outstanding.

Direct MP3 link:–_Cory_Doctorow_mixdown.mp3


life with coronovirus around [Tales From the Riverbank]

 We're now full time substitute parents for Oswin and home schooling her.  (Basically, one parent in key job and one with serious mental health issues.  Other grandparent vulnerable due to age and medical issues, so all efforts to reduce virus risk and ease strain on parents.)

We're home-schooling her for the duration, which is rewarding, but knackering.  She's a bright kid and many of the sheets the school gave out are too easy.  So, we're working a bit sideways from the worksheets.  We're playing with measuring stuff, doing number work with seeds, emailing family members to work on English, and learning to touch type. We're also learning about the Romans, cooking Roman food, walking the local Roman road and looking at Roman roads on maps, learning how to use a compass on the walks, practicing tables.  

I'll start introducing her to fractions soon, but I don't want  her to get too far ahead of school or she'll get bored when she gets back.  So probably more science (Grandad loves astronomy) and history (the library loaned us loads of books) and natural history.

We're going for a long walk every day, which is good for everyone's stamina (and virus resistance).

Missing contact with other people, but at least with three in the house we don't get too lonely.

This entry was originally posted on Dreamwidth where it has comment count unavailable comments.


life with coronovirus around [Judith Proctor's Journal]

 We're now full time substitute parents for Oswin and home schooling her.  (Basically, one parent in key job and one with serious mental health issues.  Other grandparent vulnerable due to age and medical issues, so all efforts to reduce virus risk and ease strain on parents.)

We're home-schooling her for the duration, which is rewarding, but knackering.  She's a bright kid and many of the sheets the school gave out are too easy.  So, we're working a bit sideways from the worksheets.  We're playing with measuring stuff, doing number work with seeds, emailing family members to work on English, and learning to touch type. We're also learning about the Romans, cooking Roman food, walking the local Roman road and looking at Roman roads on maps, learning how to use a compass on the walks, practicing tables.  

I'll start introducing her to fractions soon, but I don't want  her to get too far ahead of school or she'll get bored when she gets back.  So probably more science (Grandad loves astronomy) and history (the library loaned us loads of books) and natural history.

We're going for a long walk every day, which is good for everyone's stamina (and virus resistance).

Missing contact with other people, but at least with three in the house we don't get too lonely.

comment count unavailable comments


Link [Scripting News]

We are now clawing our way up the other side of the abyss. Making features for the CV epoch. Wheee! 💥


Instant updates [Scripting News]

I've gotten a few requests from people who get the nightly email who want more frequent updates to the main blog and the linkblog. There are feeds for both. If you follow them in an RSS reader, you will get the items as they are posted, throughout the day.

Here are the feeds:


The Last Best Time [Whatever]

Three fridays ago I was lying in bed on the Nieuw Amsterdam, the cruise ship that the JoCo Cruise was sailing on this year, trying to decide whether or not I wanted to bother getting my ass up, heading down to the tender boats and going over to Half Moon Cay, our current stop on the cruise. I’d been there before and it was the last full day of a week-long cruise, and no matter how enjoyable a cruise is or has been, at some point you hit cruise fatigue. I was hitting it. Staying in bed and then wandering around a mostly-empty cruise liner for a few hours sounded like a pretty good day.

Then a thought came into my head: You know what you’re going to back to. Who knows when or if you will ever get back to this place again. Go and swim in the ocean, why don’t you. 

So I did. I went and took the tender to Half Moon Cay and hung out on the beach eating ice cream with friends and family, and then jumped into the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean and floated there as fluffy white clouds drifted overhead and my scalp became a rather alarming shade of red. I got out and had lunch with my wife and fed bits of bread to a rooster who knew a sucker when he saw one. Then I jumped back into the water, floated there again and took a moment to be mindful of where I was and who I was there with, and what an actual privilege it was to be afforded this one last best time.

To be clear, six days earlier, as we were boarding the Nieuw Amsterdam, I think most of us knew we were running ahead of a storm. There had been some question of whether loading 2,000 nerds on a cruise liner was a reasonable thing to do at all, given it was clear the coronavirus had landed in the US and was beginning to break out. The cruise line had put restrictions on who could get on the boat based on their previous travel through hotspots, which meant one of the cruise’s performers had to stay off the boat, and the boarding process featured spot health checks of the passengers. Hindsight being what it is, we were lucky that these precautions actually worked as hoped. But we were lucky.

I made a resolution that while I was on the ship I would avoid news and social media. I had email so that if there was a career emergency, my editor, agent or manager could get hold of me, but I had arranged things so that there should have been nothing that would have been an emergency during the week I was on the boat. We had departed on a Saturday; I was fully confident I wouldn’t have to think about the rest of the world until the next Saturday, when we returned to Fort Lauderdale.

In fact I made it until Thursday morning. Wednesday night my editor at Tor sent me an email, which was, basically: You have to call me immediately.

To which I replied: I’m in the middle of the ocean. There are no cell towers here. Just tell me. 

He responded in the early hours of Thursday, to tell me that my book tour for April had been entirely cancelled — and not just my tour; indeed, every event for every author my publisher published had been cancelled through April at least.

You have no idea what it’s like now, he told me. Everything’s changed. It’s been four months since last Monday. 

And I was all, well, shit, now I have to know. So I looked at the news.

He was right. Everything had changed.

For one, and very much least importantly in the grand scheme of things, no more cruise ships were going out. We were one of the very last to sail, and would be one of the very last to return.

By this time a lot of the performers and passengers on the cruise had also broken their news and social media fasts and were catching up on events in the world, and grasping what we were going to be coming back to when we arrived at port. Most of us also understood our first order when we got back to wherever it was we were going was to put ourselves in quarantine, for our own safety and the safety of others.

Because of that, at least some of us started looking at the cruise in a different light. The JoCo Cruise was always a good time — it’s why it had lasted for ten years and spawned a community that existed outside the confines of the cruise ship — but it was beginning to sink in that this might be the last good time for a while. Maybe for a long while. Or at least, the last good time we could spend with friends in reasonably close proximity, outside of the confines of our own homes.

So we enjoyed it. With the time that we had left to us, we enjoyed our time with each other. Our last best time. Then we came off the boat, got on our planes and came home to where we are now, and to the world as it is now.

We were fortunate. We were fortunate that on a cruise during a viral time, we avoided that contagion; it’s now been two weeks since we returned home, so we’re now outside the understood penumbra of its infection time. If any of us who were on the cruise get sick now, it’s far more likely that we got it here than there.

We’re also fortunate that we got to have this last, best time, with friends and music and laughter and blue skies and oceans to float in. It’s something that will help to sustain us through what we have now, and what is yet to come.


Link [Scripting News]

My friend Om Malik, one of the original bloggers and now a VC, has started a podcast, because what else does he have to do. This is a silver lining to the pandemic. All kinds of OG bloggers are dusting off their websites and getting back to work.

Link [Scripting News]

We're updating the Cuomo podcast, still have to submit it to various podcast aggregators, and Woodstock Today is catching on in the community.


Today in GPF History for Saturday, March 28, 2020 [General Protection Fault: The Comic Strip]

"Do... you always grind your teeth? That's not really healthy, you know."


Jonathan Dowland: Nintendo Switch - Virtua Racing [Planet Debian]

Screenshot of Virtua Racing

I don't play many video games any more, and I certainly don't consider myself a gamer. If I have time and brain power, I like to write code or work on my PhD; if I don't have brain power I read, watch movies or TV. However last Summer, lured by the launch titles Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I bought a Nintendo Switch. I've actually played some games on it now, although I surprised myself by playing lesser-known and indie titles rather than the AAA names. My favourite games are ones I can pick up and play for 5-10 minutes at a time without losing time to tutorials, introductory videos, and other such nonsense. I thought I'd recommend some games. First up, Virtua Racing.

I actually bought this for the office Switch before I had my own. It's re-release of the 1992 arcade racer. I have fond memories of Arcades in the 90s (although I don't think I played this game). It's conceptually simple: three tracks, few options (you can choose manual or automatic transmission). But there's some hidden depth in there: it models slipstream, tyre wear and other effects.

The fun of it for me is trying to beat my personal best and that of my colleagues. But I haven't actually placed above 3rd on the intermediate course or even finished the advanced one, so despite its simplicity, there's plenty of mileage in it for me. It also looks great, rending at a smooth 60fps. The large untextured polygons were once a design decision due to the limitations of the hardware in 1992 and are now an in-fashion aesthetic.


Dirk Eddelbuettel: RProtoBuf 0.4.17: Robustified [Planet Debian]

A new release 0.4.17 of RProtoBuf is now on CRAN. RProtoBuf provides R with bindings for the Google Protocol Buffers (“ProtoBuf”) data encoding and serialization library used and released by Google, and deployed very widely in numerous projects as a language and operating-system agnostic protocol.

This release contains small polishes related to the release 0.4.16 which added JSON support for messages, and switched to ByteSizeLong. This release now makes sure JSON functionality is only tested where available (on version 3 of the Protocol Buffers library), and that ByteSizeLong is only called where available (version 3.6.0 or later). Of course, older versions build as before and remain fully supported.

Changes in RProtoBuf version 0.4.17 (2020-03-xx)

  • Condition use of ByteSizeLong() on building with ProtoBuf 3.6.0 or later (Dirk in #71 fixing #70).

  • The JSON unit tests are skipped if ProtoBuf 2.* is used (Dirk, also #71).

  • The configure script now extracts the version from the DESCRIPTION file ( (Dirk, also #71).

CRANberries provides the usual diff to the previous release. The RProtoBuf page has copies of the (older) package vignette, the ‘quick’ overview vignette, and the pre-print of our JSS paper. Questions, comments etc should go to the GitHub issue tracker off the GitHub repo.

If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can now sponsor me at GitHub. For the first year, GitHub will match your contributions.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.


Communicating online (the big leaps) [Seth's Blog]

It’s not just like the real world but with keyboards.

Leap 1: Attention is too easy to steal online, so don’t. Spam is a bad idea. Interrupting hundreds or millions of people doesn’t cost you much, but costs each person a lot. You wouldn’t stand up in the middle of a Broadway play and start selling insurance from the audience. Don’t do it with your keyboard. Permission is anticipated, personal and relevant.

Leap 2: There’s a difference between asynchronous and synchronous interaction. We know this intuitively in the real world (a letter is different from a phone call) but online, it’s profound. A discussion board isn’t the same as a Zoom call. It turns out that we can create rich and layered conversations with async communication, but we also have to be just a bit more patient.

Leap 3: More than one person can ‘talk’ at a time. In the real world, that’s impossible. At a table for six, we take turns talking. But in a chat room, we can all talk at the same time. Use it well and you can dramatically increase information exchange. But if you try to follow all the threads, or you miss what you need, then it’s actually less effective.

Leap 4: Sometimes we leave a trail. Most real-life conversations are inherently off the record because the words disappear right after we say them. But if you use a keyboard, or you’re attached to a server, assume you’re being recorded and act appropriately. And sometimes the people who are talking are anonymous (which never happens in the real world).

It’s possible, with effort, to transform business communications (and schooling) away from the top-down, synchronized, compliance-focused, off-the-record, hierarchical and slow status quo to something significantly more fluid and powerful. But we’ll need to do it on purpose.


PS the free co-working space we’re offering has become a successful community hub. Thanks to the Akimbo team for putting so much into creating it, and for the thousands of people who have found energy and solace by being part of it.


YouTube Refuses to Process DMCA Counternotice for ‘Creepy Bugs’ Cartoon [TorrentFreak]

Earlier this week we reported on a dark parody cartoon depicting a washed-out Bugs Bunny as a sex pest. The controversial video was created by Hunter Hancock, the person behind the MeatCanyon channel.

It was hit with a copyright complaint by Warner Bros. As a result, the MeatCanyon channel received a copyright strike and the cartoon was taken down.

When a video is targeted by a copyright holder with a manual complaint (i.e one not actioned as a result of ContentID matching), users can generally refer to the DMCA for guidance. This means that if they believe their content was not infringing (under fair use guidelines, for example), they can submit a DMCA counternotice to YouTube explaining why the content should not have been taken down.

This is exactly what Hancock did in response to the Warner complaint.

“This is my own creation. I animated every frame, composed the music, recorded the audio and made the backgrounds,” he told YouTube in his counternotice shared with TorrentFreak.

“This creation is under fair use,” he continued. “The characters have been stylized by myself to not reflect directly with the traditional characters. There is no branded logo to incite that this is a real video owned by Warner Brothers, but is in fact a parody video created by none other than by myself.”

As required under the law, Hancock swore that he had a “good faith belief” that the material had been removed due to a mistake and also consented to the jurisdiction of his local federal court, in case Warner chose to sue him – something it must do within two weeks to prevent the content from being restored. Should that time pass with no lawsuit, then the content would’ve been put back up and the strike removed.

In the event, however, none of those things happened. In short, YouTube declined to accept the apparently valid DMCA counternotice filed by Hancock and refused to pass it on to Warner.

“Based on the information you provided, it appears that you do not have the necessary rights to post the content on YouTube. Therefore, we regretfully cannot honor your request. It has not been forwarded to the original claimant, and we will not be able to restore your video,” YouTube’s correspondence reads.

While this response from YouTube runs counter to what most people would expect under the DMCA counter-claim process, it is not unprecedented. The EFF previously reported that agreements YouTube has with rightsholders may effectively deny access to the system.

“In many instances, even if you successfully submit a DMCA counter-notice, the video will not be reinstated. These agreements are opaque, and scope of what’s allowed under them is unknown. They may be short-term, or long-term,” the EFF previously explained.

In this case, the refusal of YouTube to allow a counter-claim represents a double-edged sword. While Hancock submitted the notice in good faith, genuinely believing he was in a good position to put his side of the argument by insisting he was protected under fair use doctrines, the reality of dealing with a lawsuit, should one be initiated, is a serious proposition and not to be underestimated.

After being denied by YouTube and further consideration, he decided that fighting probably wasn’t the best option after all.

“I am in no place to fight this in court due to financial reasons. It seems unnecessary to start a GoFund me or ask for help, because it’s between me and Warner Brothers,” he told TF.

“It also made me think YouTube wanted the video off the platform. It is a very crude video so I can’t blame them for that, but it would’ve been nice to have been given more information on why this video was unacceptable to stay up on my page. It’s very disheartening.”

While the decision by YouTube will be viewed by some as anti-consumer and a denial of due process, in this case the platform arguably did the animator a favor. Instead of expending resources he doesn’t have on a legal process that could go either way and could even prove financially ruinous, he can now concentrate on creating new content for fans.

Some battles are worth fighting but it’s definitely worth weighing the costs first.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.


Control Panel isn’t dead yet – but the System applet is looking nervous [OSnews]

You may have seen dark rumors around the Web that Microsoft is about to kill off the classic Control Panel. Rest assured, friend, we were as horrified as you are—but on more careful inspection, this seems not to be the case.

That’s one of the many downsides of being at the mercy of closed operating systems like Windows or macOS – as a user, you’re not really in control, and your platform landlords can decide to remove vital functionality or features on a whim, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

If you haven’t done so yet, I’d highly suggest start looking at open source alternatives before it’s too late, because I feel the noose is only going to tighten more, not less.


Amiga machine code course [OSnews]

Here you’ll find my complete set of posts covering the Amiga Machine Code course.

The course consists of twelve letters and two disks, that can be found here. The letters are available as PDF’s in their original Danish language as well as translated to English.

Some light reading for the weekend.

Dumping MiniDisc media [OSnews]

If you have music on a collection of MiniDisc media and want to finally copy the data off onto modern media (or the cloud!), here are simple instructions for some different solutions.

Why would you stop using MiniDisc though?

Friday, 27 March




Anti-Piracy Campaign Against YouTube-Rippers Has Very Little Effect [TorrentFreak]

Nowadays, most popular music is legally accessible on YouTube. While everyone is allowed to play it, downloading tracks without permission is strictly forbidden.

YouTube itself also prohibits downloading or ripping unless the uploader specifically allows it. However, there are third-party sites that have found ways around these restrictions.

These ‘YouTube-rippers’ have been around for many years, much to the frustration of the music industry. The RIAA, in particular, is actively cracking down on these sites.

In recent months, the music group has filed subpoenas to identify several site operators. In addition, it sends takedown requests to search engines hoping that this will make the sites harder to find.

The latter strategy is relatively new and started just a few months ago. The RIAA doesn’t use standard DMCA notices since most YouTube-rippers don’t host content. Instead, the sites are reported for violating the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision.

Through this route, the RIAA has managed to remove thousands of URLs from Google’s search results. While that sounds effective, a closer look at the estimated traffic data, kindly shared with us by piracy tracking company MUSO, shows that the measures have surprisingly little effect.

Below is an overview of the worldwide traffic to stream-ripper sites in the music category. It runs from September 2019, before the RIAA’s mass takedown campaign started, all the way to the end of January 2020. This reveals that traffic to these sites has remained relatively stable, without any sign of declining visitor numbers.

Global traffic in the music category to stream-rippers

The lack of movement by itself doesn’t say much about search traffic, so we decided to take a detailed look at that as well. MUSO reports search traffic separately, and this shows a similar pattern. In fact, search traffic to stream-rippers briefly appeared to grow at the end of last year.

In September, search engines were sending roughly 7.5 million visitors to stream-rippers per day, and at the end of January, that figure was pretty much the same.

Global search traffic in the music category to stream-rippers

These data are not entirely unexpected as YouTube-rippers are actively fighting back against the RIAA’s anti-piracy campaign. As we highlighted earlier, several sites are switching to new URL structures, to make sure that they remain visible in search engines.

And indeed, if we search on Google for the phrase “YouTube to MP3,” we see several YouTube-rippers in the top results.

Google search for “YouTube to MP3″”

Looking at the traffic statistics of individual sites we see some movement here and there. The two most popular stream-rippers, and, increased their traffic, while the third in line,, lost some visitors.’s sister site, however, saw its traffic go up. Both sites are also currently involved in a legal battle with the RIAA. While they won their first round, this case is currently on appeal.

The above shows that, thus far, the RIAA’s takedown efforts have had little effect. However, that doesn’t mean that there is nothing to celebrate at all., which was the most popular stream-ripper just a year ago, is no longer a major threat.

The site saw its traffic drop from 207 million visitors in March 2019, to 15 million last month. This loss in visitors isn’t directly linked to the RIAA’s efforts, however. Instead, it’s the result of the site’s decision to disable YouTube ripping, after YouTube started to block its servers.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.


Link [Scripting News]

This week's Radio Open Source is worth a listen. The economics of Coronavirus. They breezed by a huge issue. Millions of Americans without health insurance, no savings, no job, sick, homeless, hungry, plus guns. The ticking time bomb I wrote about briefly on March 21. The so-called stimulus Congress passed, what a joke, does nothing to address this. I would much preferred see the $2 trillion give everyone the health care they need, keep us all fed, and reboot the economy around serving the people of the country. The UK did this, by guaranteeing 80% of people's salaries for the duration. They already have a national health care system. We are headed for a big crash. Congress didn't deal with it.

Friday Squid Blogging: Squid Can Edit Their Own Genome [Schneier on Security]


Revealing yet another super-power in the skillful squid, scientists have discovered that squid massively edit their own genetic instructions not only within the nucleus of their neurons, but also within the axon -- the long, slender neural projections that transmit electrical impulses to other neurons. This is the first time that edits to genetic information have been observed outside of the nucleus of an animal cell.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered.

Read my blog posting guidelines here.



New Books and ARCs, 3/27/20 [Whatever]

As we round the bend toward April, we have one more stack of new books and ARCs for March! What here is getting your attention as a possible Spring Read? Share in the comments!


News Post: Tripoli [Penny Arcade]

Tycho: I understand the idea of a Midlife Crisis as it is usually imagined, but "an emotional crisis of identity and self-confidence" is what my identity itself is based on. My inner life is a video feed of a video feed of a video feed of a mind fracture extending forward, perpetually devoured and devouring. I am a matryoshka of self-hate. Is that… is that not life? So my thinking is that if Mike wants to build a race car in his office he can drive against other psychopaths who have built race cars in their offices, he's probably doing this better than many men - skipping the red…


Distance and Patience and This Moment of Time [Whatever]

The frustrating thing for me during this moment of time that we’re in is that I don’t think it’s quite sunk in to some folks that this virus doesn’t care about politics, or the economy, or in fact any human concern at all. It doesn’t care about anything. It just wants to spread, and will take any opportunity it is given to do so, to rich or poor, conservative or liberal, to any person regardless of their situation or circumstance or makeup.

And it’s really good at spreading — better at it than flu or many other communicable diseases — and it’s really good at hurting people. Right now we think its mortality rate is slightly above 1%, but I think equally important is that we estimate 19% of the people who get it will need to be hospitalized. That’s pain and fear and money and weeks if not months lost to recovery. Much of that avoidable, if people remember that this virus doesn’t care about politics, or the economy, or any human concern at all. It just wants to spread.

Now, let me speak of a particular human concern. I have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars (and, uh, possibly more) in the stock market in the last few weeks. I certainly understand how people might panic to look at it. I also know that historically speaking, the market will recover in time, as it did in ’87, and in ’08. It’s a good bet that if I’m patient I will see that money again.

If we rush to put this virus on a timetable that it cannot and will not honor, we will kill and hurt people who do not need to be hurt, and who do not need to die. I will see my stock market gains again, in time. I won’t see the dead again. They’ll be gone forever and every future moment any of us could have had with them lost.

It won’t just be the old, although that would be bad enough. Young people are dying of this too. People who are immunocompromised are dying, and so are people who were thought to be perfectly healthy. The virus doesn’t care who you are, what you want or what you believe. It doesn’t care who you will miss, or who will miss you. It doesn’t care that those lost will never be seen again.

The only weapons we have against this virus right now — the only weapons — are distance and patience. Right now we’re practicing the former, but we’re fighting against the latter, in ways both small and large. This virus doesn’t care if you’re patient or impatient. But if you’re the latter, it will take advantage of that to get to you, and it will use you to get to others. Please be as patient as you can, for as long as you can. It matters for you, and for the people you care about.

I understand some of you reading this will want to make political arguments, or argue about what we know about the virus, or (in the US, at least) make the very real point that money is running out for so many of us. Your points may be good, or they may not be, but I’m not going to argue any of them with you right now. I will simply remind you of what I said at the beginning: This virus doesn’t care about politics, or the economy, or any human concern at all. It just wants to spread. That’s it. That’s all. It will, if you let it. And won’t, if you don’t.


Meta-chaos [Scripting News]

There's chaos and there's chaos about the chaos.

Reduce the chaos until what we're doing is as smart as possible, to reduce death, and hasten the time we can resume living.

The way we're living now is not sustainable, we have to stay focused and not give in to the circus.


On track for worst-case climate scenario [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

*Polar ice caps melting six times faster than in 1990s.* *Losses of ice from Greenland and Antarctica are tracking the worst-case climate scenario, scientists warn.*

No justification for overreach [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

*The outbreak necessitates heavy government involvement in our lives but this does not mean an overreach is justified.*

"… more people will suffer and even die as a result of the way governments choose to handle the crisis than from contracting the virus."

Turning detention into death camps [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

*Because of the Threat of Coronavirus Turning ICE Detention Into 'Death Camps,' Groups Rallying to Free Families Held Around Country.*

I think the article means "minors" when it says "children". The point is just as valid for adolescents as it is for children, but I don't want to appear to endorse that distortion of terminology.

On the matter of substance, I have to question the limitation of this campaign to those who are jailed with relatives. Are the lives of people who are jailed without relatives are less important?

Exploiting the crisis [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

*It's morally repulsive how corporations are exploiting this crisis. Workers will suffer.*

How to protect economy [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

An interview with AOC about how to protect the US economy, including the poor as well as the rich.

Measures to protect banks from global heating [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

Measures to protect banks from the effects of Covid-19 should be designed to protect them later from global heating.

This should go beyond shallow protection by including deep protection. By "shallow protection" I mean structuring banks so they are less likely to fail as a result of climate mayhem. By "deep protection" I mean stopping them from funding any fossil fuel development, which includes step-by-step programmed divestment from fossil fuels companies and activities.

Looting puzzle stores [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

(satire) *…hysterical mobs of violently bored citizens have begun looting puzzle stores across the country,*

Oh, that's a crime? [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

(satire) *North Carolina Senator Richard Burr wondered Friday when profiting off mass suffering had suddenly become a crime in this country.*

Reason Sanders lost [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

Arguing that Sanders lost because he didn't lead his movement to tackle his opponents hard, or lead a direct action movement.

I can't judge whether that position is valid.

Best case scenario [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

(satire) *[the monster described] his administration’s best case scenario projections for coronavirus where eight million Iranian people are killed.*


Pluralistic: 27 Mar 2020 [Pluralistic: Daily links from Cory Doctorow]

Today's links

  1. The US is now the epicenter of the pandemic: Trump has murdered millions.
  2. Plutes cash in on stimulus: $170B for real-estate tycoons.
  3. States prep for postal voting: But the GOP has all but murdered the USPS.
  4. "Civility" and the Confederate playbook: The right's call for "civility" has a long, dishonorable history.
  5. Boris Johnson has coronavirus: He greenlit national pox-parties, now he has it.
  6. Reasonable covid food-safety advice: Sanitize your hands and your cart, practice social distancing, and…you're done.
  7. San Francisco cocktail delivery: Courtesy of the DNA Lounge.
  8. Flu pandemic photos: Mask-slackers beware!
  9. Free hi-rez covid stock art: Make your pandemic more visually varied.
  10. Warren campaign frees its software: Free, open and universal campaigning tools.
  11. This day in history: 2005, 2010, 2015, 2019
  12. Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming appearances, current writing projects, current reading

The US is now the epicenter of the pandemic (permalink)

The US is now the epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic, henceforth known as the Mar-a-Lago Virus. It has the highest number of infections of any country in the world.

There have "only" been 1,000 US deaths so far. The "only" is there because there are so many more to come, when the vast number of incubating cases start manifesting symptoms and begin to die.

Trump wants the country to go back to work by Easter, because in his version of the Trolley Problem, the most important thing is saving the trolley.

We had so much warning. But the president said it wasn't anything to worry about.

Now, a lot of people are going to die.

Most of the dead will be old – from the demographic most likely to have voted for Trump (which isn't to imply that only Trump voters will die, or that they deserve to die – only that Trump chose to put his base at risk).

Many will have contracted their infections by deliberately seeking out crowded public places as the pandemic started spreading, because Fox News told them that doing so was a way to own the libs.

Fox News viewers – who skew elderly, even by the standards of TV watchers – are also disproportionately at risk from coronavirus. Fox News is now a suicide cult.

But so many people will die because of this. Old people. Young people. People with disabilities. People who just had very bad luck. Kids.

And that's before you get to all the people who have car wrecks or heart attacks or slip-and-falls and can't get treatment in overloaded hospitals.

When Hoover fucked up by giving in to plutes and crashed the economy, he got tent cities, or "Hoovervilles."

Trump's fuckup will end with mass graves. Trump Mausoleums? Mar-a-Plague-Pits?

We will get through this. But Trump will have murdered so many of us before it's over.

Plutes cash in on stimulus (permalink)

The stimulus package that the GOP Senate passed has the largest-ever giveaway for real-estate plutes in US tax history: $170 billion in tax-cuts over 10 years for couples with more than $500K in annual capital gains.

The President who will sign the bill into law is a real-estate investor who stands to make a fortune from it. His inner circle is packed with similarly situated rentiers.

It's the second-biggest giveaway in the stimulus package, and it will also give windfalls to wealthy oil and gas investors.

The House is expected to vote on it today.

(Image: Rich Brooks, CC BY, modified)

States prep for postal voting (permalink)

States are scrambling to prepare for a postal ballot-based election next November.

Postal ballots tend to benefit Democrats, whose voters are disproportionately unable to get off work to vote, and who are more likely to live in regions where GOP statehouses have closed polling places, adding long drives and long queues for in-person voting.

That's why Red States often have state laws that prohibit unrestricted postal voting, insisting that voters must provide a "good reason" for their desire to exercise their franchise to a bureaucrat who gets to decide whether or not they can participate in elections.

Of course, if Trump throws hundreds of thousands – or millions – of (disproportionately GOP-voting) seniors into the coronavirus volcano to appease the market-gods, the survivors may be gunshy about voting in person, even if they continue as fully paid-up Trump cultists.

There are serious challenges to reorienting towards a largely postal election, including mobilizing printing resources during a lockdown.

But even more challenging is the post office itself, which is on the verge of collapse.

The USPS is a miracle of self-funding resilience, a universal, small-d democratic institution that serves the whole nation. But its existence is a thorn in the side of shareholders UPS and Fedex, who donate lavishly to Congressjerks who fuck with the post office.

Requiring the post office to fund pension liabilities for workers who aren't born yet is transparent fuckery. Combine that with a sharp decline in mail usage during the lockdown and the service is now on the brink.

That would be bad news, and not just for elections. The USPS is key to America's emergency preparedness, and has been since the Cold War, when it was projected to serve as a survivor-counting/corpse-hauling service after nuclear armageddon.

It's the only institution that could deliver covid meds to every household in America in a single day.

"Civility" and the Confederate playbook (permalink)

You may have heard conservatives insist that the reason they stick up for eugenicists and other cryptofascists is that they're standing up for "civility" against the "social justice mobs."

This rhetoric isn't new: it's literally the same thing that slavery apologists said in the runup to, and aftermath of, the Civil War: "we're not in favor of slavery, we're just opposed to the shaming and social exclusion of slavery advocates.

When we learn about the antebellum slavery debate, we hear about slavery's defenders – but the mainstream debate over slavery wasn't about its merits, it was about the incivility of abolitionists, and how that compromised the free speech of enslavers.

Slavery advocates were cast as a disfavored minority, shouted down by mobs who refused to hear them out. But discrimination against slavers was a funny kind of discrimination: half the millionaires in America were slavers in a single southern town.

Likewise, the right-wing figures who today claim that they are censored and cast out by the intolerant left are millionaires who fill arenas and appear regularly on Fox News, the most popular cable network in America.

They publish books with Big Five publishers and go on multicity tours. They're courted by "progressive" news outlets as paid on-air commentators to provide "balance." If that's discrimination, sign me up.

John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, professed love of Black people, and claimed he was animated by anger at the suppression of honest debate on racial politics, unable to share "my thoughts or sentiments" about slavery in polite society.

Slavers cast anti-slavery rhetoric as "orthodoxy" and cast themselves as realists who were willing to speak truth to power.

Does that sound familiar?

The abolition movement – including Lincoln – focused on these slavery apologists, understanding that they provided the cover for the continuation of slavery.

Lincoln insisted that Douglas go beyond lamenting the angry rhetoric of abolitionists and instead describe what he stood for – beyond his support of slavers' right to "choose how they wanted to live."

He demanded that Douglas go beyond his campaign speeches against "mob rule" and state plainly whether he wanted an America with or without slavery.

In her Washington Post op-ed, Eve Fairbanks suggests that we do the same for the "reasonable right" – pin them down. Sure, you don't like "cancel culture," but what do you stand for? What kind of world do you want?

(Image: Anthony Crider, CC BY)

Boris Johnson has coronavirus (permalink)

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has coronavirus.

Under Johnson's leadership, the UK pursued a month-long plan to turn the nation into a giant pox-party, hoping to attain quick "herd immunity."

He was following a promising strategy devised for less-lethal, less-contagious flus, which was manifestly unsuited to coronavirus, as experts argued at the time. As a result, infections now rage out of control in the UK.

During the planning of this "herd immunity" strategy, Johnson's chief advisor Dominic Cummings acknowledged that it would likely murder elderly people: "if that means some pensioners die, too bad."

After Johnson tested positive for coronavirus, Cummings was seen fleeing Number 10 Downing Street at a dead run.

(Image: Think London, CC-BY, modified)

Reasonable covid food-safety advice (permalink)

There's a viral (ugh) video going around in which an MD in scrubs (at home!) shows you what you should do when you come back from the grocery store. It's frankly terrifying. It's also wrong.

As Don Schaffner, a food microbiologist, notes in his thread, not only is this advice wrong, it could make you very sick — either because you ate the soap that you washed your food in, or because you left your groceries on your stoop for 3 days.

There's no evidence that washing your food with soap will kill coronavirus, and even less evidence that you can get the virus from eating. There is, however, millennias' worth of evidence that you can die from food poisoning.

Schaffner's advice for groceries boils down to: wash your hands before and after grocery shopping. Wipe down the cart handle. Shop efficiently. Keep your distance from other shoppers.

You know, common sense.

(Image: Lyza, CC BY-SA, modified)

San Francisco cocktail delivery (permalink)

Hey, San Francisco! Craving a cocktail? The DNA Lounge will deliver a mason jar's worth (~3 servings) of Black Manhattan (w/Slow and Low honey & orange infused rye), Sazerac, brown sugar margarita (w/a little orange) or lavender lemonade gin cooler.

The DNA is a San Francisco institution, one that runs on a shoestring and is continuing to pay its employees, even as other SF venues (snapped up by predatory corporate behemoths) shut down.

They've also got a bunch of livestream events coming up, including a benefit for the Gay Gaming Professionals, a Death Guild set, and Hubba Hubba Revue's Burlesquerpiece Theatre.

Flu pandemic photos (permalink)

During the 1918 flu pandemic, California went on lockdown. The governor ordered statewide shutdowns, and "mask slackers" who refused to wear masks faced arrest.

The California Sun has rounded up an amazing set of images of California life during the 1918 flu from libraries, museums, and other sources," in gorgeous hi-rez.

Free hi-rez covid stock art (permalink)

If this image seems familiar, that's because it's one of the only open-licensed images of the novel coronavirus, courtesy of the CDC. It's been used millions of times in just a few weeks.

An effects house called Covert has stepped in to fill the visual gap with a collection of gorgeous,crazy hi-rez covid renders: "No licensing, royalties or any credit is required for their use."

Warren campaign frees its software (permalink)

Elizabeth Warren's campaign has released seven of its sophisticated campaigning tools as free/open software.

The Warren campaign had a large cohort of software developers and created a suite of outstanding tools, as well as making improvements to standard tools, including improvements to the texting tool Spoke that reduces the cost of using it by ~97%!

The projects are hosted on Github:

This isn't just an opportunity for campaigns, but also for small shops that provide integration and support to them. Obviously election campaigning is in a mess at the moment, but this is seismic.

This day in history (permalink)

#15yrsago Nepali media crackdown thwarted by bloggers

#10yrsago LibDem MPs won't fight for debate on Digital Economy Bill

#5yrsago Top homeland security Congressjerk only just heard about crypto, and he doesn't like it

#5yrsago NSA-proof passwords

#5yrsago Welfare encourages entrepreneurship

#5yrsago Here's the TSA's stupid, secret list of behavioral terrorism tells

#5yrsago San Francisco Sheriff's Deputy ring accused of pit-fighting inmates

#1yrago Elizabeth Warren's latest campaign plank is a national Right-to-Repair law for farm equipment

#1yrago Mystery solved: why has a beach in France been blighted by washed-up parts for toy Garfield phones for more than 30 years?

#1yrago McDonald's will drop opposition to increases in the federal minimum wage

#1yrago Front-line programmers default to insecure practices unless they are instructed to do otherwise

#1yrago Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez schools Republicans on the true costs and beneficiaries of the Green New Deal

Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources: Naked Capitalism (, Slate Star Codex (, Kottke (, Advertising Pics (, Fipi Lele.

Currently writing: I'm getting geared up to start work my next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation.

Currently reading: Just started Lauren Beukes's forthcoming Afterland: it's Y the Last Man plus plus, and two chapters in, it's amazeballs. Last month, I finished Andrea Bernstein's "American Oligarchs"; it's a magnificent history of the Kushner and Trump families, showing how they cheated, stole and lied their way into power. I'm getting really into Anna Weiner's memoir about tech, "Uncanny Valley." I just loaded Matt Stoller's "Goliath" onto my underwater MP3 player and I'm listening to it as I swim laps.

Latest podcast: Data – the new oil, or potential for a toxic oil spill?

Upcoming appearances:

Upcoming books: "Poesy the Monster Slayer" (Jul 2020), a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Pre-order here:

(we're having a launch for it in Burbank on July 11 at Dark Delicacies and you can get me AND Poesy to sign it and Dark Del will ship it to the monster kids in your life in time for the release date).

"Attack Surface": The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020.

"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden:

This work licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. That means you can use it any way you like, including commerically, provided that you attribute it to me, Cory Doctorow, and include a link to

Quotations and images are not included in this license; they are included either under a limitation or exception to copyright, or on the basis of a separate license. Please exercise caution.

How to get Pluralistic:

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When live gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla -Joey "Accordion Guy" DeVilla

Covid-19 used as excuse to eliminate right of Habeas Corpus [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

Barr (and behind him, the would-be dictator) cites Covid-19 as an excuse to eliminate the right of Habeas Corpus, so that governments at any level could put anyone in jail indefinitely without giving a reason.


Today in GPF History for Friday, March 27, 2020 [General Protection Fault: The Comic Strip]

While testing Trudy's mind-reading "link" ability, she inadvertently learns one of Fooker's deepest, darkest secrets...


dooH niboR in California [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

By using public money to protect California homes from [sea level rise] the state is transferring wealth from working-class people … to … property owners.

This is an example of dooH niboR. In the US, classes correlate with races, so every dooH niboR policy is going to effect racial bias also. That applies here, but the dooH niboR element is why this is unfair.

More basically, resisting the damage done by global heating cannot hold out for more than a few decades if we keep building up global heating.

Australia spies on Australians without warrant [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

Australia's equivalent of the NSA has spied on Australians. It can do this without a warrant.

Conman's policies advanced under guise of Covid-19 response [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

*The White House, under the guise of its coronavirus response, is quietly advancing policies that President Trump has long advocated, from tougher border controls to an assault on organized labor to the stonewalling of congressional oversight.*

Deaths from November-January fires in Australia [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

The November-January fires in Australia directly killed over 200 people, but we should also count an estimated 400 deaths due to breathing the smoke all over the most populous parts of Australia.

Biden may be no better than the bully [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

On foreign policy, Biden may be no better than the bully.

In regard to business-supremacy treaties, I expect Biden to be worse, just as Obama was worse. Obama pushed for the TPP (Treacherous Plutocratic Poison).

There are of course areas where the bully would be worse.

Endangering wild plants in wildlife refuges [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

The poisoner's officials propose to allow planting of genetically-modified herbicide-resistant crops in wildlife refuges. This would imply using herbicides there, thus endangering wild plants in the surrounding areas.

Impact of climate crisis [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

*Changeable weather in mid-latitude countries may have masked impact of climate crisis up to now, study finds.*


[$] Per-system-call kernel-stack offset randomization []

In recent years, the kernel has (finally) upped its game when it comes to hardening. It is rather harder to compromise a running kernel than it used to be. But "rather harder" is relative: attackers still manage to find ways to exploit kernel bugs. One piece of information that can be helpful to attackers is the location of the kernel stack; this patch set from Kees Cook and Elena Reshetova may soon make that information harder to come by and nearly useless in any case.


Link [Scripting News]

It helps to remember we are an occupied country. Vichy America. The person at the podium is our Marshal Pétain.


Are Windows Runtime asynchronous operations guaranteed to complete? [The Old New Thing]

The Windows Runtime uses asynchronous operations, which are operations which start and return immediately, and then notify you when the operation has completed. This lets you do other things while waiting for the operation. Most programming languages nowadays have built-in support for this style of programming, usually by using some variation of the keyword await.

Is there any guarantee that a Windows Runtime operation will eventually complete?

Is there any guarantee that any operation will eventually complete?

Not really.

For example, you might display a dialog box to the user by calling MessageBox.ShowAsync. This completes when the user responds to the dialog. But what if the user isn’t there? The dialog box remains on screen indefinitely. Now, it’s possible that the user might return someday, so you might argue that the operation hasn’t definitely gotten stuck, because the user can always unstick it by responding to the dialog box.

The AnimatedVisualPlayer.PlayAsync method completes when the animation stops. This happens naturally if you ask the animation to play to the end and stop, but if you ask for a looping animation, then it doesn’t stop until you manually call Stop to stop it. Does this mean that there’s no guarantee that the PlayAsync will ever complete? I mean, your program can always unstick it by calling Stop.

Each asynchronous operation defines the conditions under which it will complete. If those conditions are never met, then it will never complete. There’s nothing special about asynchronous operations here. This can happen with synchronous functions, too. If you ask Wait­For­Single­Object to wait for a handle that will never be signaled, then it will never return.

Bonus chatter: You can easily create your own Windows Runtime asynchronous operation that never completes.

winrt::IAsyncAction HangAsync()
    co_await std::experimental::suspend_always{};

The suspend_always object suspends and never wakes up. Awaiting it will never complete. And that means that the IAsyncAction you created from it will never complete.


The post Are Windows Runtime asynchronous operations guaranteed to complete? appeared first on The Old New Thing.


Link [Scripting News]

I think it's clear now that if SXSW had gone on as scheduled, Austin would now be a hot spot for the virus, like New Orleans or New York.

Link [Scripting News]

I don't feel good about this. I was glad to hear Boris Johnson got the CV, not because I hold anything against him, but if he can get it so can Trump. And I think that would be good for Americans who are scared out of our minds about this disease esp because our president is not.


Security updates for Friday []

Security updates have been issued by Debian (bluez and php5), Fedora (chromium, kernel, and PyYAML), Gentoo (adobe-flash, libvpx, php, qtcore, and unzip), openSUSE (chromium, kernel, and mcpp), Oracle (ipmitool and libvncserver), Red Hat (ipmitool and rh-postgresql10-postgresql), Slackware (kernel), and SUSE (ldns and tomcat6).


Bad Boys For Life Leads Wave of Early Movie Releases Flooding Pirate Sites [TorrentFreak]

As the planet struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic, businesses around the world are looking at ways to mitigate the disruption caused by voluntary and in some cases mandatory isolation.

Social distancing is now vital to the health of billions of people and as a result, visiting cinemas is no longer an option. Instead, movie companies are bringing forward digital release dates for many movies, hoping that people will rent or buy these titles, as a temporary replacement for venturing out to the big screen.

Somewhat inevitably these releases are now appearing on pirate sites, available to download or stream depending on the platform. Last Friday, The Invisible Man, The Hunt and Emma were readily available for viewing and this week many new titles can be added to the list.

Despite the movie only hitting cinema screens in mid-January, the much-anticipated Bad Boys For Life is now pulling in considerable numbers on unofficial platforms. It wasn’t expected until March 31 but this morning there are various HD copies culled from a digital source doing the rounds on torrent and streaming platforms.

Switching back and forth between second and third place in this batch is superhero movie Bloodshot. Starring Vin Diesel, the title was released early on March 13 but just a handful of days later, Sony Pictures said it would appear digitally on March 24 in response to the outbreak.

Next up is the Guy Ritchie action/comedy The Gentleman. Available in 1080p WEBRip format after being captured from platforms such as Amazon, the movie was previously slated for a home release on April 7. In the event, it appeared March 24 and almost immediately found itself on unlicensed platforms.

In no particular order (our regular weekly download chart will determine that in due course), several other titles are also readily available after early digital releases.

After being released digitally last Friday, animated release Onward was quickly made available unofficially. The same thing happened to the Harrison Ford movie The Call of the Wild today, just hours after being made available on Disney Plus.

Another Disney movie, Downhill starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell, also appeared this morning but doesn’t appear to be particularly popular, at least for now.

Finally, after a February theatrical release, Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn was slated for a digital release on March 24 by DC. In the event, it actually appeared on pirate sites as early as March 21.

Quite how this state of play is being received at the studios is unclear. However, these are unprecedented times and since the vast majority of the public buy, rent or stream their movies legally, sales figures may yet be respectable – for the good films at least.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.


Error'd: You Must Agree! [The Daily WTF]

"Apparently they don't want you to Strongly Agree with everything they say!" wrote David S.   "When updating some Logitech software recently, I learned that under the right...

Story of Gus Weiss [Schneier on Security]

This is a long and fascinating article about Gus Weiss, who masterminded a long campaign to feed technical disinformation to the Soviet Union, which may or may not have caused a massive pipeline explosion somewhere in Siberia in the 1980s, if in fact there even was a massive pipeline explosion somewhere in Siberia in the 1980s.

Lots of information about the origins of US export controls laws and sabotage operations.


Generous isn’t always the same as free [Seth's Blog]

People have been generous with you through the years. A doctor who took the time to understand your pain. A server who didn’t hesitate and brought you what you needed before you even knew you needed it. A boss who gave you a project at just the right time.

Gifts create connection and possibility, but not all gifts have monetary value. In fact, some of the most important gifts involve time, effort and care instead.

Money was invented long after humans arrived on the scene, and commerce can’t solve all problems.

In this moment when we’re so disconnected and afraid, the answer might not be a freebie. That might simply push us further apart. The answer might be showing up to do the difficult work of connection, of caring and of extending ourselves where it’s not expected.


Comic: Tripoli [Penny Arcade]

New Comic: Tripoli


Favor [Ctrl+Alt+Del Comic]

The post Favor appeared first on Ctrl+Alt+Del Comic.


Girl Genius for Friday, March 27, 2020 [Girl Genius]

The Girl Genius comic for Friday, March 27, 2020 has been posted.


Urgent: Ban Fracking Act [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

US citizens: call on the House to pass the Ban Fracking Act.

If you sign, please spread the word!

Urgent: Reject Stephen Schwartz as federal judge [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

US citizens: call on the Senate to reject Stephen Schwartz as a federal judge.

If you sign, please spread the word!

Covid-19 stimulus bill [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

*Third House COVID-19 Stimulus Bill Better Protects Public Health, the People, and Democracy.*

Surely it can't be perfect. I would like to see a review of its downsides, from someone who criticizes it, to get an idea of how big those are.

*New Senate Stimulus Bill Would Ban Companies Owned by Trump or His Children From Receiving Any Bailout Money.*

However, it gives other giant companies a giant handout.

*OBSCENE: Patriotic Millionaires Slam Senate Bill Provisions on CEO Compensation.*

I think it also has a provision to cut employer contributions to Social Security, which was reported in this article a few days ago. This would enable Republicans to say, perhaps next year, "Social Security is running out of money; we have to cut benefits."

Risking death to keep "the economy" going [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

The lieutenant governor of Texas urges older Americans to risk death to keep "the economy" going.

I might be able to imagine making a sacrifice to sustain an economic system that supported all Americans well — as happens for example in Scandinavia. The US economy is designed to keep the rich working most Americans into the ground. This is an economy that makes most people sacrifice to serve the rich. Why make any sacrifice for that?

3D-printed ventilator parts [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

Patients were going to die in Brescia, Italy, because of a shortage of oxygen valves for mechanical ventilators. The manufacturer, Intersurgical, demanded $11,000 for each one, and couldn't deliver them right away. It refused to provide the plans either. So a local device manufacturer figured out plans and a local fablab made them with a 3D printer.

Fracassi's design, made by the fablab, fixed the problem for one city, but the shortage of oxygen valves surely affects other parts of Italy, and will soon spread around the world. Out of fear, perhaps tinged with undue respect for the unjust "rights" of the manufacturer, Fracassi insists he will not take the next step which would enable the world to fix this problem globally: releasing the plans he has developed.

The real hero will be whoever releases working plans to make these oxygen valves — perhaps anonymously — so that there can be ventilators for all who need them.


Retro Just Means Having Nothing Left to Buy [Diesel Sweeties webcomic by rstevens]

this is a diesel sweeties comic strip

I think I might need to set up my SNES. (it only has one game: Tetris Attack.)



Link [Scripting News]

I'm looking into how to submit a podcast to Apple, and was surprised that their feed requirements are perfectly reasonable. I was expecting horrors.

Thursday, 26 March


Radio Free Burrito Presents: The Sun Goddess [WIL WHEATON dot NET]

I don’t want to commit myself to making full-on Radio Free Burritos right now, but I do want to stay creative and productive while I listen to experts who are not […]

The exFAT filesystem is coming to Linux – Paragon software’s not happy about it [OSnews]

Ars Technica reports on a story from the early 2000s 2020:

When software and operating system giant Microsoft announced its support for inclusion of the exFAT filesystem directly into the Linux kernel back in August, it didn’t get a ton of press coverage. But filesystem vendor Paragon Software clearly noticed this month’s merge of the Microsoft-approved, largely Samsung-authored version of exFAT into the VFS for-next repository, which will in turn merge into Linux 5.7—and Paragon doesn’t seem happy about it.

Yesterday, Paragon issued a press release about European gateway-modem vendor Sagemcom adopting its version of exFAT into an upcoming series of Linux-based routers. Unfortunately, it chose to preface the announcement with a stream of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) that wouldn’t have looked out of place on Steve Ballmer’s letterhead in the 1990s.

This is some “get the facts” level of tripe. You’d think that in 2020, we’d be spared this sort of nonsense, and I’m sad I’m even spending precious bits on this one – but at least we get the name of Paragon out so you can avoid them like the plague.

AMD uses DMCA to mitigate massive GPU source code leak [OSnews]

AMD has filed at least two DMCA notices against Github repos that carried “stolen” source code relating to AMD’s Navi and Arden GPUs, the latter being the processor for the upcoming Xbox Series X. The person claiming responsibility for the leak informs TorrentFreak that if they doesn’t get a buyer for the remainder of the code, they will dump the whole lot online.

I’d love to hear the backstory behind this hack. For a company like AMD, such a hack must’ve been an inside job, right? While I know I shouldn’t be surprised anymore by just how lacking security can be at even the most prominent technology companies, I just can’t imagine it being very easy to get your hands on this documentation and code without some form of inside help.

MIPS Loongson 3 seeing support improvements with Linux 5.7 [OSnews]

For those managing to get their hands on a recently released Loongson 3A4000/3B4000 or even older Loongson 3 MIPS64 processors, improving the support is on the way with the upcoming Linux 5.7 kernel.

Queued as part of the MIPS architecture work for Linux 5.7 are a number of Loongson improvements, in particular for the Loongson 3 series.

The Loongson processors are pretty much impossible to come by outside of China, and gained some fame as the platform of choice for Richard Stallman.


Bully's ban on fetal tissue research [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

*[The bully's] ban on fetal tissue research blocks coronavirus treatment effort.*

That's not all it blocks. A friend of mine went blind, across many years, because this ban prevented the research that might have developed a cure.

Locust swarms [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

*Experts fear [locust] swarms like those seen in Africa will become more common as tropical storms create favourable breeding conditions.*

Uber and Lyft drivers protest [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

*Uber and Lyft drivers protest to demand more benefits during coronavirus crisis.*

What about cab drivers that are not working for a company? They need sick leave too, and they should get every benefit that exploitees get.

Target workers struggling [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

Target gave workers a raise, but made them work a lot faster. Most workers there can't live on the wages they get from Target.

Brazilian religious nuts [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

Brazilian religious nuts want to use helicopters to contact isolated indigenous tribes in Brazil. That way, they can catch Covid-19 as well as other, older diseases which are more fatal.

I guess there is no chance for uncontacted indigenous peoples to obtain SAMs for self-defense.

Inefficiency of profit-driven health care [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

*Coronavirus will bring into focus the depraved inefficiency of this system—the model of profit-driven health care, of market forces that look out for the short-term interests of business, not the long-term interests of us all.*

We should also learn that we need elected officials such as Sanders that want to correct the bad system, not officials such as Biden or the bully that defend it.

Protest from balconies and windows in Brazil [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

'Bolsonaro Out!' From Balconies and Windows, Millions Demand Ouster of Brazilian President Over Handling of Coronavirus.

Physical protests reach a lot more people than virtual ones. It is very important to continue them.

US phone tracking [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

The US government wants to track everyone's phone to enforce possible travel restrictions.

Documents destroyed by UK thugs [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

The UK thugs that infiltrated various nonviolent dissident groups, sometimes by getting into pretend-loving sexual relationships with other participants, destroyed documents after being told to preserve them for the inquiry.

If this doesn't put the thugs behind bars for obstruction of justice, they will have got away with that crime.

Testing and quarantining [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

By testing every person in the hotspot town of Vò, and quarantining everyone found to be infected with Covid-19 including those who were asymptomatic, Italy put an end to the spread of the disease there.

Lots of countries could apply this method, given only enough testing capacity.

Restrictions on human rights in UK [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

The UK is planning emergency measures that can harm human rights.

This follows a long series of restrictions on human rights.

The power to test people and quarantine them seems legitimate to me, in the emergency situation that exists. I agree with Corbyn that the law must be reevaluated frequently.

However, banning protests "for our safety" is extremely dangerous.

I fear the US will follow the same path.

African black rhinos [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

With great efforts to stop poaching, the population of African black rhinos has increased slowly over the past 6 years.

The climate crisis threatens to leave countries (even rich ones) too desperate to be able to continue these protection efforts. A world recession might also cut into the world demand for the totally ineffective "medicine" of rhino horn.

Progressive Democrat defeats right-wing Democrat [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

Progressive Democrat Marie Newman has defeated right-wing Democrat Representative Lipinski.

Although the Democratic Party machine has lost this battle, I expect it has succeeded in protecting several other right-wing Democrats that could have been replaced. Americans will replace them sooner or later, but with the climate emergency, we haven't got all the time in the world.


Apple releases macOS 10.15.4, watchOS 6.2, and iOS, iPadOS and tvOS 13.4 [OSnews]

Apple has released macOS 10.15.4, watchOS 6.2, and iOS, iPadOS and tvOS 13.4.

Earlier today, Apple continued its tradition of updating all of its operating systems at once. The day brought major new feature releases to iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. The iOS, iPadOS, and tvOS updates are numbered 13.4, Apple Watches got watchOS 6.2, and Macs saw the release of macOS Catalina 10.15.4.

You know where to get them.


Try to Get a Message to Her: (Another) LP-Length Playlist [Whatever]

Hey, I made another playlist! Enjoy. Here’s the Spotify link, or follow along with the videos below.


Malcolm: Static analysis in GCC 10 []

David Malcolm writes about the static-analysis features that he is working on adding to the GCC compiler. "This issue is, of course, a huge problem to tackle. For this release, I’ve focused on the kinds of problems seen in C code—and, in particular double-free bugs—but with a view toward creating a framework that we can expand on in subsequent releases (when we can add more checks and support languages other than C)."


‘Hellboy’ Must Explain Calculation For the $270,000 Piracy Damages Claim [TorrentFreak]

Last summer, the makers of the movie “Hellboy” (HB Productions) filed a complaint against torrent site MKVCage at a Hawaii federal court.

The movie company accused the site and its operator of promoting and distributing pirated copies of the Hellboy movie while demanding an end to the activity.

The lawsuit quickly had an effect as MKVCage became unreachable. At the same time, the uploader stopped pushing torrents to other sites as well. This meant that part of the plan had succeeded, without the torrent site putting up a defense.

But HB Productions wanted more. The company argued that the site caused irreparable damage and demanded compensation from the operator, a Pakistani man named Muhammad Faizan.

Since Faizan didn’t show up in court, the movie company’s attorney Kerry Culpepper requested a default judgment totaling more than $270,000 in infringement damages.

“The certain sum of $270,902.58 […] was calculated by multiplying the number of instances of infringement in the United States logged by Plaintiff’s agent by the price for purchasing a copy of the motion picture in Hawaii,” Culpepper wrote to the court.

Despite a hefty damages award hanging over his head, Faizan remained quiet. This generally means that the court will side with the plaintiff but in this case, Magistrate Judge Kenneth J. Mansfield is reluctant.

In a recently issued report and recommendations, Mansfield advises the court to deny the damages request, as the “sum” is not as “certain” as Hellboy’s attorney makes it out to be.

“The First Amended Complaint and the Motion do not indicate how Plaintiff calculated its asserted $270,902.58 damages amount. Nor does Plaintiff’s Motion include documents setting forth amounts necessary to calculate a certain damages sum,” Judge Mansfield writes.

“Without such information, the Court is unable to determine the formula Plaintiff used to calculate its alleged damages. The Court thus finds that Plaintiff fails to establish that its claim is for a ‘sum certain’ and recommends that the district court deny the Motion,” he adds.

This recommendation serves as guidance to the federal court, which has yet to rule on the matter. However, before it could do so, HB Production’s attorney already withdrew his request for a default judgment.

The movie company now plans to file a new motion in the near future where it will provide more detail on its calculations. Among other things, it will have to explain in detail how many infringements were logged, and what retail price for the movie the company chose.

By law, the maximum statutory damages are $150,000 per work. Since HB Productions asked for a substantially higher amount here, these details are crucial in order to determine whether it will be granted, or not.

A copy of Magistrate Judge Kenneth J. Mansfield’s report and recommendations is available here (pdf)

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.


From the Archives: His Wife Kissed a Dude and He Doesn't Like It [The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper: Savage Love]

Savage Love Letter of the Day by Dan Savage


I'm very confused and I hope you can set me straight. I married my wife several months ago after dating her for three years. Things are generally excellent except for one problem: when my wife gets drunk, she gets crazy flirtatious with everyone. She'll get very close to people, repeatedly touch them or hold hands, dance closely, etc. She'll do this whether I'm present or not. A couple of times I thought it went too far, and I told her while of course she can talk to other people without me, there is a line that makes me uncomfortable. I say it could lead to something that she will regret later. She claims that this is just harmless friendliness/flirtation, and she would never let anything happened. Well, as it turns out, something did happen. After another party where she was dancing, hugging, and getting kissed on the cheek by a woman I think was a lesbian, after slow dancing with a different woman, we discussed the issue again. During the ensuing argument it came out that in year two of our relationship she was high and dancing at a club with several gay men, some of whom have been her close friends for several years, and she French kissed at least one of the friends for several seconds.

She swears this was an isolated incident and that she had never kissed these friends before. She says that she did not and still does not have any sexual feelings for these men (or the women from the party). She says that while she acknowledges a line was crossed (which is why she didn't tell me when it happened), she says it was just a very intense but regrettable "friendship moment" between close friends who were high on drugs. She says this gay man is not bi.

So, now I'm grappling with three issues: 1. Did she cheat? Although we've never talked about the rules concerning kissing gay friends, I think we both know she crossed a line (there was tongue). 2. How much did she betray me by not telling me until after we were married when she knew it would be an issue? 3. Am I being a selfish prude by caring about either her aggressive flirting or this kiss? She is very contrite about everything and wishes none of it had happened, and swears she will calm down the flirtation. Should I forgive her and move on, or should I run the hell away before its too late?

Seriously Troubled Here

1. No.

2. Your wife's failure to disclose a single drugged-up, blissed-out, pre-marriage-ceremony kiss shared with a gay dude on a dance floor—even a kiss with tongue—does not constitute a "betrayal." It may constitute an omission.

3. Yes, ATH, you are being a selfish prude and, yes, you should forgive her.

The aggressive flirting could be a problem—I mean, if she really is flirting all that aggressively. I'm wary of taking your characterization of her behavior at face value, STH, as a man who regards tongue kissing a gay friend a year before the wedding as grounds for divorce is obviously incapable of being rational about his wife's interactions with other people. Where you see getting too near, dancing too closely, and being too friendly, a slightly less paranoid/controlling spouse might see normal human interaction and innocently flirtatious behavior. But if she admits to the flirting and agrees that it's a problem—if for no other reason than it bothers you—and she's willing to tamp it down for your sake, you should absolutely "forgive her and move on," by which I mean, "YOU SHOULD CEASE BEING SUCH A FUCKING DOUCHEBAG" about 1. the kiss and 2. the flirting and 3. the fucking kiss already.

All that said, ATH, I'm not sure your wife should forgive you. It sounds like you've been an insufferable prick about that stupid kiss and the flirting. I wouldn't want to be married to man who claimed to love me but couldn't forgive me for something so trifling as a meaningless kiss and I'm not sure I'm doing your wife any favors here by talking you off the ledge. Someone who can't forgive is hardly husband material. A successful marriage is basically an endless cycle of wrongs committed, apologies offered, and forgivenesses granted, ATH, all leavened by the occasional orgasm. If you can't forgive her for this, ATH, then you're not cut out for marriage. She's the one who might want to run away before it's too late.

Originally published December 15, 2009.


Listen to my podcast, the Savage Lovecast, at
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[$] Avoiding retpolines with static calls []

January 2018 was a sad time in the kernel community. The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities had finally been disclosed, and the required workarounds hurt kernel performance in a number of ways. One of those workarounds — retpolines — continues to cause pain, with developers going out of their way to avoid indirect calls, since they must now be implemented with retpolines. In some cases, though, there may be a way to avoid retpolines and regain much of the lost performance; after a long gestation period, the "static calls" mechanism may finally be nearing the point where it can be merged upstream.


These Games Are Real Winners [Humble Bundle Blog]

Take home a bit of the prize with this bundle of award-winning video games! Partake in a night of excellent

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The post These Games Are Real Winners appeared first on Humble Bundle Blog.


Russians Shut Down Huge Card Fraud Ring [Krebs on Security]

Federal investigators in Russia have charged at least 25 people accused of operating a sprawling international credit card theft ring. Cybersecurity experts say the raid included the charging of a major carding kingpin thought to be tied to dozens of carding shops and to some of the bigger data breaches targeting western retailers over the past decade.

In a statement released this week, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said 25 individuals were charged with circulating illegal means of payment in connection with some 90 websites that sold stolen credit card data.

A still image from a video of the raids released by the Russian FSB this week shows stacks of hundred dollar bills and cash counting machines seized at a residence of one of the accused.

The FSB has not released a list of those apprehended, but the agency’s statement came several days after details of the raids were first leaked on the LiveJournal blog of cybersecurity blogger Andrey Sporov. The post claimed that among those apprehended was the infamous cybercriminal Alexey Stroganov, who goes by the hacker names “Flint” and “Flint24.”

According to cyber intelligence firm Intel 471, Stroganov has been a long-standing member of major underground forums since at least 2001. In 2006, Stroganov and an associate Gerasim Silivanon (a.k.a. “Gabrik“) were sentenced to six years of confinement in Russia, but were set free just two years into their sentence. Intel 471 says Selivanon also was charged along with Stroganov in this past week’s law enforcement action.

“Our continuous monitoring of underground activity revealed despite the conviction, Flint24 never left the cybercrime scene,” reads an analysis penned by Intel 471.

“You can draw your own conclusions [about why he was released early],” Sporaw wrote, suggesting that perhaps the accused bribed someone to get out of jail before his sentence was up.

Flint is among the biggest players in the crowded underground market for stolen credit card data, according to a U.S. law enforcement source who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak to the media. The source described Flint’s role as that of a wholesaler of credit card data stolen in some of the biggest breaches at major Western retailers.

“He moved hundreds of millions of dollars through BTC-e,” the source said, referring to a cryptocurrency exchange that was seized by U.S. authorities in 2017. “Flint had a piece of almost every major hack because in many cases it was his guys doing it. Whether or not his marketplaces sold it, his crew had a role in a lot of the big breaches over the last ten years.”

Intel 471’s analysis seemed to support that conclusion, noting that Flint worked closely with other major carding shops that were not his, and that he associated with a number of cybercrooks who regularly bought stolen credit cards in batches of 100,000 pieces at once.

Top denizens of several cybercrime forums who’ve been tracking the raids posited that Stroganov and others were busted because they had a habit of violating the golden rule for criminal hackers residing in Russia or in a former Soviet country: Don’t target your own country’s people and/or banks.

A longtime moderator of perhaps the cybercrime underground’s most venerated Russian hacking forum posted a list of more than 40 carding sites thought to be tied to the group’s operations that are no longer online. Among them is MrWhite[.]biz, a carding site whose slick video ads were profiled in a KrebsOnSecurity post last year.

A snippet from a promotional video from the carding/dumps shop MrWhite.


Nearly all of the carding sites allegedly tied to this law enforcement action — including those with such catchy names as BingoDumps, DumpsKindgom, GoldenDumps, HoneyMoney and HustleBank — were united by a common innovation designed to win loyalty among cybercriminals who buy stolen cards or “dumps” in bulk: Namely, a system that allowed buyers to get instant refunds on “bad” stolen cards without having to first prove that the cards were canceled by the issuing bank before they could be used for fraud.

Most carding sites will offer customers a form of buyer’s insurance known as a “checker,” which is an automated, à la carte service customers can use after purchasing cards to validate whether the cards they just bought are still active.

These checking services are tied to “moneyback” guarantees that will automatically refund the purchase price for any cards found to be invalid shortly after the cards are bought (usually a window of a few minutes up to a few hours), provided the buyer agrees to pay an added fee of a few cents per card to use the shop’s own checking service.

But many cybercrooks have long suspected some checkers at the more popular carding sites routinely give inaccurate results that favor the card shop (i.e., intentionally flagging some percentage of inactive cards as valid). So, the innovation that Flint’s gang came up with was a policy called “Trust Your Client” or “TYC,” which appears to be a sly dig on the banking industry’s “know your customer” or KYC rules to help fight fraud and money laundering.

With TYC, if a customer claimed a card they bought was declined for fraudulent transaction attempts made within six hours of purchase, the carding shop would refund the price of that card — no questions asked. However, it seems likely these shops that observed TYC ran their own checkers on the back-end to protect themselves against dishonest customers.

An ad for the “Trust Your Client” or TYC policy observed by virtually all of the carding shops taken down in this past week’s Russian law enforcement operation.

Want to learn more about how carding shops work and all the lingo that comes with them? Check out my behind-the-scenes profile of one major fraud store — Peek Inside a Professional Carding Shop.


Jonathan Dowland: ephemeral note-taking vs preserve-everything [Planet Debian]

Assume for a minute that that best way to take notes is on paper with pens, pencils etc., and not in a digital device. (I might return to this later).

I'm torn between two extremes for note-taking. One one hand, I find it useful in the short-term to make scrappy, ephemeral notes: ad-hoc daily TODO lists; mind maps and experiments, that I intend to throw away. There are lots of styles of stationary to support this: ring-bound notebooks that are easy to tear leaves from; or literally the back of envelopes.

The other extreme is the "preserve everything" mentality. For my PhD, I have a single, hard-backed notebook that I try to do all my PhD note taking in. I date each entry. There's a history I can refer to, no matter whether what I'm writing is seemingly ephemeral or not.

So I do both. Sometimes I want to refer back to something I did which was ephemeral and I've lost it or thrown it away. And having lots of mis-matched stationary for ephemeral storage is a bit messy, and works against the other extreme to a certain extent.

I've started to wonder whether strictly doing one or the other (and most likely, the "preserve everything" approach) might be a good idea. In practise that would mean settling on a particular notebook format, and disposing of anything else; having separate notebooks by topics (PhD, work, …) with a "catch-all" for the rest.

Does anyone have any advice or useful resources to read on this topic?


Today in GPF History for Thursday, March 26, 2020 [General Protection Fault: The Comic Strip]

Professor Wisebottom may not have a logical explanation for Fred's mysterious new "remote control" ability, but Fred seems to have plans for it already...


Jonathan Carter: Lockdown [Planet Debian]

I just took my dog for a nice long walk. It’s the last walk we’ll be taking for the next 3 weeks, he already starts moping around if we just skip one day of walking, so I’m going to have to get creative keeping him entertained. My entire country is going on lockdown starting at midnight. People won’t be allowed to leave their homes unless it’s for medical emergencies, to buy food or if their work has been deemed essential.

Due to the Covid-19 epidemic nearing half a million confirmed infections, this has become quite common in the world right now, with about a quarter of the world’s population currently under lockdown and confined to their homes.

Some people may have noticed I’ve been a bit absent recently, I’ve been going through some really rough personal stuff. I’m dealing with it and I’ll be ok, but please practice some patience with me in the immediate future if you’re waiting on anything.

I have a lot of things going on in Debian right now. It helps keeping me busy through all the turmoil and gives me something positive to focus on. I’m running for Debian Project Leader (DPL), I haven’t been able to put in quite the energy into my campaign that I would have liked, but I think it’s going ok under the circumstances. I think because of everything happening in the world it’s been more difficult for other Debianites to participate in debian-vote discussions as well. Recently we also announced Debian Social, a project that’s still in its early phases, but we’ve been trying to get it going for about 2 years, so it’s nice to finally see it shaping up. There’s also plans to put Debian Social and some additional tooling to the test, with the idea to host a MiniDebConf entirely online. No dates have been confirmed yet, we still have a lot of crucial bits to figure out, but you can subscribe to debian-devel-announce and Debian micronews for updates as soon as more information is available.

To everyone out there, stay safe, keep your physical distance for now and don’t lose hope, things will get better again.


Link [Scripting News]

I wonder how much more effective the lockdown would be if we all had good supplies of disinfectant. I have none. It's been two weeks. Why is there such a lag in producing hand sanitizers and wipes?

Link [Scripting News]

If our country is to have strong national borders, we need a uniform lockdown policy across the whole country. Or else we have to form federations of states with identical policies. This is starting to happen in the northeast, btw.


Plasma on TV: Presenting Plasma Bigscreen (KDE.News) []

The KDE.News site is carrying an announcement for the Plasma Bigscreen environment, which is meant for large-screen televisions. "Talking of interacting from the couch, voice control provides users with the ultimate comfort when it comes to TV viewing. But most big brands not only do not safeguard the privacy of their customers, but actively harvest their conversations even when they are not sending instructions to their TV sets. We use Mycroft's Open Source voice assistant to solve this problem."


Link [Scripting News]

Here's a howto for the Cuomo daily podcast.

Link [Scripting News]

BTW, for techies, here's a look at the actual XML of the feed. Browsers work hard to hide this from us, but it's interesting even if you don't know what all the elements do.

Link [Scripting News]

If Glenn Beck is so ready to die, he should kill himself, or shut up and let the dying speak for themselves to the extent they can.

Link [Scripting News]

Another analogy. General Patton is leading us to war with a dangerous enemy. He gives us an inspiring speech. Then he changes his mind and surrenders.


Pluralistic: 26 Mar 2020 [Pluralistic: Daily links from Cory Doctorow]

Today's links

  1. EFF's videoconferencing backgrounds: With a deep cut from the NSA's secret listening post.
  2. The ideology of economics: Economics doesn't have "laws" it has "policies."
  3. LoC plugs Little Brother: Open access FTW.
  4. Canada nationalizes covid patents: An Act respecting certain measures in response to COVID-19.
  5. Exponential Threat: Trump threatened to sue media outlets that aired this spot.
  6. Sanders on GOP stimulus cruelty: "Millions for plutes, but not one cent for workers."
  7. Record wind-power growth: Covid stimulus could start a Green New Deal.
  8. Social distancing and other diseases: Do we trust IoT thermometer companies, though?
  9. Badger Masks: UW Madison's open facemask design.
  10. This day in history: 2005, 2010, 2015, 2019
  11. Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming appearances, current writing projects, current reading

EFF's videoconferencing backgrounds (permalink)

Telework is a quiet reminder that we live, in some sense, in an age of wonders. As terrible as lockdown is, imagine it without any way to videoconference with your peers and colleagues.

But it's also a moment where we tremble on the precipice of cyberpunk dystopia, when calls for mass surveillance – both for epidemiology and stabilizing states that are bruised and reeling – meet a world where everything is online and amenable to "collection" by spooks.

This is, basically, the moment that EFF has been warning about for 30 years: the moment when the "digital world" and the "real world" fully merge, and where the distinction between "tech policy" and "policy" dissolves.

One way you can help keep this in your colleagues' minds is to use EFF's amazing, free/open graphics as your videoconferencing background (most of these are the creation of the brilliant Hugh D'Andrade).

Now, those are all great, but this one is Room 641A at AT&T's Folsom Street center, where the whistleblower Mark Klein was ordered to build a secret room so the NSA could illegally spy on all US internet traffic.

The ideology of economics (permalink)

Thomas Piketty's "Capital in the 21st Century" advanced a simple, data-supported hypothesis: that markets left to their own will cause capital to grow faster than the economy as a whole, so over time, the rich always get richer.

He's followed up Capital with the 1000-page "Capital and Ideology" – whose thesis is that the "laws" of economics are actually policies, created to "justify a society's inequalities," providing a rationale to convince poor people not to start building guillotines.

The first ideology of capital was the "trifunctional" system of monarchist France, dividing society into "those who pray," "those who fight," and "those who work."

After the French revolution, we enter the capitalist phase, then social democracies, and now, "meritocracies."

"Meritocracies" invest markets with the mystical power to identify and elevate the worthy, in a kind of tautology: those who have the most are worth the most. You can tell they're worth the most because they have the most.

("That makes me smart" -D. Trump)

In Piketty's conception, "Inequality is neither economic nor technological. It's ideological and political," where "ideology" "refers to a set of a priori plausible ideas describing how society should be structured" (think: Overton Window).

The major part of the book seeks to explain how the post-war social democracies gave way to the grifter meritocracies of today, pulling together threads from across the whole world to tell the tale.

On the way, he described alternatives that were obliterated, and others that were never tried, and shows how "meritocracy" gave us Trump, xenophobia, Brexit, and the Current Situation.

In particular, he's interested in why working class people stopped voting (spoiler: they no longer perceive that elites will pay attention to them irrespective of how they vote) — and what it would take to mobilize them again.

The elites' indifference to working people is grounded in an alliance between the Brahmin Left (educated, well-paid liberals) and the Merchant Right (the finance sector). Notionally leftist parties, like the Democrats, are dominated by the Brahmin Left.

But more than any other, Macron epitomizes this alliance: proclaiming his liberal values while slashing taxes on the wealthy — punishing poor people for driving cars, exempting private jets from his "climate" bill.

Life in a "meritocracy" is especially cruel for poor people, because meritocracies, uniquely among ideologies, blame poor people for poverty. It's right there in the name. French kings didn't think God was punishing peons, rather, that the Lord had put them there to serve.

"The broadly social-democratic redistributive coalitions of the mid-twentieth century were not just electoral or institutional or party coalitions but also intellectual and ideological. The battle was fought and won above all on the battleground of ideas."

As Marshall Steinbaum writes in his excellent review, Piketty's work doesn't just highlight new ideas in economics: it highlights the intellectual poverty of the economics profession and its tunnel vision.

"Economists cannot be allowed to be the arbiters of the intensely political concerns Piketty takes up in the book, and the good news is that there is reason to believe they won't be."

LoC plugs Little Brother (permalink)

Honored and pleased to have my book Little Brother included on the Library of Congress's excellent collection of open-access ebooks in its collection, which you can always access gratis but which may be of especial interest during the lockdown.

If you enjoyed Little Brother and its sequel Homeland, you might be interested in the third Little Brother book, Attack Surface, which Tor is publishing on Oct 12.

If you're looking for more topical reading, Infodocket's carefully curated list of coronavirus resources is here for you:

Canada nationalizes covid patents (permalink)

Canada's Parliament has passed Bill C13, "An Act respecting certain measures in response to COVID-19," amending patent law to create automatic compulsory licenses for any inventionused to fight covid, including diagnostics, vaccines, therapies or PPE.

As E Richard Gold writes, it's an "important signal that Canada will not support IP delays…While most firms are helping find solutions, this will prevent those who try to take advantage-by raising prices or limiting supply-or those who cannot deliver to block what is needed."

Exponential Threat (permalink)

"Exponential Threat" is a remarkable – and factual – political ad, one that contrasts Trump's statements on coronavirus with the spread of the disease in America.

More remarkable: Trump has threatened to sue the media for airing it, which is a totally cool and normal thing for someone who has sworn a solemn oath to uphold the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to do.

"In case you needed more, here's an (admittedly incomplete) list of Trump statements on the novel coronavirus and COID-19"

Sanders on GOP stimulus cruelty (permalink)

This Bernie Sanders floor speech in the Senate on the GOP's relentless attempts to punish poor people in the covid relief package is a must-watch

tldr: GOP Senators are freaking out because some people in line to get the pittances they're doling out actually earn EVEN LESS than $1k-2k/month, and so they might get a raise in the form of covid relief.

That is, rather than taking the fact that this bare-minimum subsidy package exceeds "normal" income as a wakeup call to raise the minimum wage for the first time since 2009, the GOP is calling for cuts to aid to the most vulnerable Americans.

As Sanders points out, these same Senators had no problem with the Tax Scam, which poured trillions into the accounts of the richest Americans, directly and indirectly through stock-buybacks, which also left US business vulnerable and in need of trillions more today.

Now those bailed-out plutes want workers to risk death to "restart the economy," and the GOP will ensure they'll starve if they don't.

As ever, The Onion nails it:

"GOP Urges End Of Quarantine For Lifeless Bipedal Automatons That Make Economy Go"

Record wind-power growth (permalink)

As the world's wind-generation capacity increases, you'd expect annual growth to fall proportionately (it's easier to double a very small number than a very big one!), but this year should see the largest proportional growth ever, a 20% increase!

That number is uncertain (hello, coronavirus), but on the other hand, there's a massive stimulus package in the offing that could be used to restart the economy by saving the planet with renewable energy.

The non-adjusted, pre-virus projection for this year's total growth in wind power was an additional 76GW (to meet climate projections, that number has to rise to 100GW/year, and then to 200GW/year).

Social distancing and other diseases (permalink)

Though the evidence is a little shaky, it appears that social distancing has dramatically reduced the spread of other infectious diseases, like flu.

The data comes from an Internet of Shit "connected thermometer" company that (allegedly) anonymizes its data and uses it for health surveillance; they report a massive drop-off in high temps relative to other years and pre-distancing levels.

The claims are plausible, but they're also an ad for an IoT company that sells a product no one needs, so take them with a grain of salt.

I'd be interested in STI transmission after weeks/months of government-recommended masturbation-over-hookups:

Badger Masks (permalink)

A local hospital asked researchers at the UW Madison Engineering Design Innovation Lab to design them a field-expedient face-shield that could be mass-manufactured to protect its staff from coming cases.

Using hardware-store parts, the UW makerspace, and teleconferencing with self-isolating collaborators, the team designed an excellent mask, the Badger Shield:

They've manufactured and delivered 1,000 Badger Masks to the hospital and a Ford plant in MI is making 75,000 more this week for Detroit-area hospitals. Here's a technical spec you can follow if you have access to equipment and parts:

It involves just 3 pieces: polyethylene sheets (laser- or die-cut), an elastic headband, and a 1" thick strip of self-adhesive polyurethane foam. For initial production, Midwest Prototyping used office-supply-store electric staplers for assembly.

The design process started with a teardown of an existing, approved mask, and the project lead, Lennon Rodgers, worked with collaborators to replicate it, sanity-checking successive designs with his wife, an anaesthesiologist.

They started hand-delivering prototypes to the hospital, who refined the design further, swapping in latex-free elastic and lengthening the shield. Tim Osswald from UW used his polymer engineering expertise to find a supplier who could create a custom die.

Now, more than 1M Badger Masks have been sought, with manufacturers like St Paul's Summit Medical tooling up to meet demand.

Other designs are popping up across America. San Francisco's Exploratorium is making 200+ shields/day using its own makerspace.

This day in history (permalink)

#15yrsago If the Constitution was a EULA

#10yrsgo Discarded photocopier hard drives stuffed full of corporate secrets

#5yrsago TPP leak: states give companies the right to repeal nations' laws

#5yrsago Woman medicated in a psychiatric ward until she said Obama didn't follow her on Twitter

#5yrsago Sandwars: the mafias whose illegal sand mines make whole islands vanish

#5yrsago Australia outlaws warrant canaries

#5yrsago As crypto wars begin, FBI silently removes sensible advice to encrypt your devices

#1yrago Article 13 will wreck the internet because Swedish MEPs accidentally pushed the wrong voting button

#1yrago EU's Parliament Signs Off on Disastrous Internet Law: What Happens Next?

Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources: Slashdot (, Naked Capitalism (, Late Stage Capitalism (

Currently writing: I'm getting geared up to start work my next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation.

Currently reading: Just started Lauren Beukes's forthcoming Afterland: it's Y the Last Man plus plus, and two chapters in, it's amazeballs. Last month, I finished Andrea Bernstein's "American Oligarchs"; it's a magnificent history of the Kushner and Trump families, showing how they cheated, stole and lied their way into power. I'm getting really into Anna Weiner's memoir about tech, "Uncanny Valley." I just loaded Matt Stoller's "Goliath" onto my underwater MP3 player and I'm listening to it as I swim laps.

Latest podcast: Data – the new oil, or potential for a toxic oil spill?

Upcoming appearances:

Upcoming books: "Poesy the Monster Slayer" (Jul 2020), a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Pre-order here:

(we're having a launch for it in Burbank on July 11 at Dark Delicacies and you can get me AND Poesy to sign it and Dark Del will ship it to the monster kids in your life in time for the release date).

"Attack Surface": The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020.

"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden:

This work licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. That means you can use it any way you like, including commerically, provided that you attribute it to me, Cory Doctorow, and include a link to

Quotations and images are not included in this license; they are included either under a limitation or exception to copyright, or on the basis of a separate license. Please exercise caution.

How to get Pluralistic:

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When live gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla -Joey "Accordion Guy" DeVilla


If you say that your minimum requirements are the Universal contract, then you need to probe for anything beyond that [The Old New Thing]

A few days ago, we saw how to declare your app’s minimum requirements in its manifest, so that you won’t be deployed to a system that doesn’t meet your requirements, as well as how to defer this check until runtime.

The manifest mechanism is a little bit more complicated if you are dealing with contracts outside the Universal contract, though.

<TargetDeviceFamily Name="Windows.Universal"
    MinVersion="10.0.10240.0" MaxVersionTested="10.0.18362.0" />

If you declare your target device family as Windows.Universal, then you’re saying that your program can run on anything that supports the Universal platform, without any extension contracts. If your program uses any contracts outside the Universal contract, you’ll need to probe for them at runtime.

If you declare your target device family as Windows.Desktop or Windows.Phone or Windows.Xbox, then you’re saying that your program runs on that specific device family. You can take advantage of any contracts that were part of that device family’s extension SDK as of the minimum version you declare.

One mistake is declaring your app as supporting all Universal devices, even though you rely on classes that are in other contracts, typically contracts that are available only on Desktop, and you forgot to add contract checks to your program to validate that the types exist before you try to use them.

To be fair, this is an understandable error, seeing as Desktop is the only platform that developers are going to have easy access to. The Phone device family died out several years ago, testing on an Xbox is not easy, and Windows 10X is not out yet.

Unfortunately, the result is a bunch of application compatibility bugs against Windows, because an app gets installed from the Store to a non-Desktop device, and the program crashes due to a reliance on a Desktop-only class. It gets counted as an application compatibility bug because “The app worked fine on Desktop, but doesn’t work on non-Desktop systems, so there must be some compatibility issue with those other devices.”

And then the platform team digs in and discovers that the program simply forgot that they were using types outside the Universal contract in an ap pthat targets the Universal device family.

So go back and check your apps. If you consume an extension SDK, such as the Desktop extension, then you have two choices. Either mark your program as requiring a Desktop device, or add checks to your app before it tries to use Desktop-only features.

Bonus chatter: Naturally, I would prefer that you add the checks to the app so that it will also run on Windows 10X. You can test your app on the Windows 10X emulator to validate that the feature-detection works correctly.

The post If you say that your minimum requirements are the Universal contract, then you need to probe for anything beyond that appeared first on The Old New Thing.

The Big Idea: Robert Mitchell Evans [Whatever]

Science fiction writers don’t only grow up on science fiction. Their influences can be all over the map in terms of genre and medium. Just ask Robert Mitchell Evans, who for his novel Vulcan’s Forge has tapped into another rich vein of storytelling entirely.


“I killed him for money and for a woman. I didn’t get the money — and I didn’t get the woman.” – Walter Neff’s confession, Double Indemnity.

My twin loves are film and science fiction. Drive-in movies are among my earliest memories. My older brothers, in order to obtain the family car, always promised my parents to take me along and that they would be going to Disney-like movies but invariably we went to lurid full-color horror spectacles. This goes a long way in explaining a great many thing about me. My affection for film noir came many years later when a history of cinema course introduced me to the dark and cynical genre. With Vulcan’s Forge I have fused my passions for movies, noir, and science fiction.

By far, I am not the first to combine science fiction and noir. Hard-bitten private eyes, dogged detectives, and fatales of every kind, produced by terrific writers, are numerous in science fiction but I wanted something else.

Don’t get me wrong, Spade, Marlowe, Hammer, and the rest of those classic characters, both on the page and the silver screen, are great and excellent SF version of these iconic archetypes are wonders to behold but I wanted something more akin to Walter Neff in Double Indemnity or Frank Chambers in The Postman Always Rings Twice, an person that, because they are unable to resist temptation, finds themselves suddenly in over their heads with lust and murder taking over their lives. It took me quite a while to find the characters and plot where everything came together for the kind of SF noir I wanted but eventually I did.

Writing a novel you discover surprising things about yourself and your subjects. Vulcan’s Forge taught me that noir stories besides being about crime and character are also about culture.

Noir characters, the outcast, the forgotten, and the greedy, propelled by taboo appetites, brawl with their cultures. They are characters that fall into crimes chasing forbidden desires and it is their culture that defines those taboos.

Invented cultures fill science fiction. Some are utopian and others dystopian but usually they are already well-established societies with readers meeting them mature and functional. But what about a culture being born? How do you teach a specific culture to a population? What about the people that don’t fit in? These are a few of the questions that nagged at me as I wrote Vulcan’s Forge.

In the backstory, near the end of the 21st century a rogue brown dwarf barreled through the solar system disrupting the planets and destroying the Earth. With decades of warning humanity launched thousands of automated arks loaded with human eggs and sperm, replicating technologies, and artificial intelligences. Advanced automation, the vast resources of the solar system, and artificial intelligences made producing individual arks so affordable so that even sub-cultures could construct their own in hopes of persevering their unique value. The net results were thousands of colonies spanning the vast complexity of human cultures, including somewhere a planet devoted to perpetuating Texas. Propelled by light-sails these arks dispersed through the local stellar neighborhood and a few found habitable planets. The onboard computer intelligences established colonies and with artificial wombs they raised the first generation of colonists — humans who had never have known Earth.

Jason Kessler lives in a colony dedicated to a mythologized view of mid-twentieth century urban Americana. Charged with helping establish this culture Jason, a third-generation colonist, carefully screens curated mass media to create a stolid society morally guided by Doris Day, John Wayne, and Mickey Mouse. However, he is far from ready to settle down to the life of a respectable family man. When Pamela Guest, sensual and mysterious, sweeps into his theater offering him a life free of suffocating societal expectations he leaps at the chance and lands amid corruption, crime, and a conspiracy beyond his petty concerns.

One of the central questions that emerged from writing Vulcans Forge was what does an individual owe their society and what does society owe them in return? To me this strikes at the very heart of what it means to be human. We are individuals with compelling drives to be our own persons and yet simultaneously we are also highly social animals fighting for in-group status. Jason’s desire to live as he wants, forsaking a ‘family life,’ whatever that may mean, is understandable but life isn’t just about selfish wants it’s about ‘us’ as well. One the other hand a culture that demands total obedience and compliance is despotism even if they are operating on a misguided belief that they are serving some greater good.

Vulcan’s Forge forced me out of my writing comfort zone. Noir is a deeply cynical genre; it is base drives that compel its characters. What ‘good’ characters may exist in these stories are often sidelined or ineffectual. None of my earlier novel length fiction embraced such a worldview and I seriously doubted my ability to sustain it. Following Jason as he made mistakes, as temptation overpowered his judgment, and he discovered truths about himself and his world challenged me but I firmly believe that outside of our comfort zone is where creation waits. That’s not to say I didn’t have fun writing this novel. I played games with myself burying references to favorite movies in the narrative. I wrote it ignoring trends and markets. It is a love letter to the shadowed world of film noir and a reminder that even among the stars we will remain our own worst enemy.


Vulcan’s Forge: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Mysterious Galaxy|Powell’s

Visit the author’s site. Follow him on Twitter.



Link [Scripting News]

Imagine there’s a fire burning in your apartment building. Your apartment is engulfed in flame. The president says it’s time to go home, sends the fire department away. Back to work!


Security updates for Thursday []

Security updates have been issued by CentOS (firefox, icu, kernel-rt, libvncserver, python-imaging, python-pip, python-virtualenv, thunderbird, tomcat, tomcat6, and zsh), Debian (icu and okular), Fedora (libxslt and php), Gentoo (bluez, chromium, pure-ftpd, samba, tor, weechat, xen, and zsh), Oracle (libvncserver), Red Hat (ipmitool and zsh), and SUSE (python-cffi, python-cryptography and python-cffi, python-cryptography, python-xattr).

Link [Scripting News]

Trump is suing to get this taken off the TV. I don't know why. It's all about Trump. I thought he liked the attention.

Link [Scripting News]

I guess Trump's lawyers never heard of the Streisand Effect.

Link [Scripting News]

Another silver lining. We're finding out which countries have the best health care systems.


On Cyber Warranties [Schneier on Security]

Interesting article discussing cyber-warranties, and whether they are an effective way to transfer risk (as envisioned by Ackerlof's "market for lemons") or a marketing trick.

The conclusion:

Warranties must transfer non-negligible amounts of liability to vendors in order to meaningfully overcome the market for lemons. Our preliminary analysis suggests the majority of cyber warranties cover the cost of repairing the device alone. Only cyber-incident warranties cover first-party costs from cyber-attacks -- why all such warranties were offered by firms selling intangible products is an open question. Consumers should question whether warranties can function as a costly signal when narrow coverage means vendors accept little risk.

Worse still, buyers cannot compare across cyber-incident warranty contracts due to the diversity of obligations and exclusions. Ambiguous definitions of the buyer's obligations and excluded events create uncertainty over what is covered. Moving toward standardized terms and conditions may help consumers, as has been pursued in cyber insurance, but this is in tension with innovation and product diversity.


Theoretical work suggests both the breadth of the warranty and the price of a product determine whether the warranty functions as a quality signal. Our analysis has not touched upon the price of these products. It could be that firms with ineffective products pass the cost of the warranty on to buyers via higher prices. Future studies could analyze warranties and price together to probe this issue.

In conclusion, cyber warranties -- particularly cyber-product warranties -- do not transfer enough risk to be a market fix as imagined in Woods. But this does not mean they are pure marketing tricks either. The most valuable feature of warranties is in preventing vendors from exaggerating what their products can do. Consumers who read the fine print can place greater trust in marketing claims so long as the functionality is covered by a cyber-incident warranty.


CodeSOD: An Ugly Mutation [The Daily WTF]

If there’s a hell for programmers, it probably involves C-style strings on some level. C’s approach to strings is rooted in arrays, and arrays are rooted in pointers, and now suddenly everything is...

Is everything going to be okay? [Seth's Blog]

That depends.

If we mean, “Is everything going to be the way it was and the way I expected it to be?” then the answer is no. The answer to that question is always no, it always has been.

If we mean, “Is everything going to be the way it is going to be?” then the answer is yes. Of course. If we define whatever happens as okay, then everything will be.

Given that everything is going to be the way it’s going to be, we’re left with an actually useful and productive question instead: “What are you going to do about it?”


Anti-Piracy Chief: Pirated Content is Now Harder to Find in Search Engines [TorrentFreak]

In 2018, leading content companies and distributors plus Yandex, Rambler Group, Mail.Ru Group, vKontakte, and RuTube signed up to a landmark anti-piracy memorandum in Russia.

The aim of the voluntary agreement was to make pirated content harder to find in search engines. This, the organizers said, would be achieved by the creation of a centralized database of allegedly-infringing content to be regularly queried by Internet platforms so that delistings could take place.

The ultimate aim is to have the memorandum written into law but in the meantime, it’s being claimed that the system is already having the desired effect.

Formed in 2013 to protect the interests of several licensed online distribution platforms, the Internet Video Association has grown to become one of the most vocal anti-piracy groups in Russia. Its members support the memorandum and according to director general Alexei Byrdin, it is now considered to be achieving its aims.

Byrdin says a certain level of piracy comes hand-in-hand with any legal content business and achieving a complete victory over piracy can’t be achieved in Russia or anywhere else in the world. However, by removing infringing content from search engines, easy access to unlicensed content is being reduced.

“The correct measurement of the effect of the fight against piracy is a decrease or increase in the availability of pirated content. It is this indicator and approach that I consider the most correct,” Byrdin told Regnum.

“Pirated products in the Russian Federation have become less accessible. And by accessible, we mean the easy discovery of pirated content through search services. It was at this point that our anti-piracy memorandum struck home. Last year there were several high-profile premieres that managed to be practically shielded from the effects of pirate consumption, thanks to the memorandum.”

While the memorandum is indeed powerful (search engines have agreed to remove pirated content within six hours of it being reported in the centralized database), other factors have also played a part in reducing pirate consumption. Reducing piracy rates is of limited use if potential consumers have few viable options to buy licensed products but according to Byrdin, local consumers now see official platforms as an attractive proposition.

“There is a certain cumulative effect. For a very long time services have explained that they really have everything conveniently, inexpensively, with a large assortment, and users are finally believing this,” the anti-piracy chief explained.

“This is also due to the fact that in Russia the audience of smart TV users is growing year-on-year, and these consumers appreciate the convenience of such services. This really is simple and affordable home entertainment. Not much can be compared in terms of user experience.”

Like many countries around the world trying to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic, Russia is also shutting down its entertainment venues, including cinemas. Byrdin will be hoping that consumers frustrated by the lack of options in search results will flock to licensed platforms for their entertainment fix. Whether this transpires will remain to be seen.

Nevertheless, those involved in the licensed distribution of entertainment content clearly see the memorandum as a great tool to achieve their aims. Writing it into law hasn’t been easy and delays caused it to time out in October 2019.

After a short extension, the signatories agreed to keep the system running until the end of January 2021, by which time it’s hoped that agreement will be reached on some of the more contentious points, including the permanent delisting of entire sites considered to be repeat offenders.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.


1386 [Looking For Group]

The post 1386 appeared first on Looking For Group.

Axel Beckert: Pictures in pure HTML with chafa and aha [Planet Debian]

I recently stumbled upon chafa, a tool to display pictures, especially color pictures on your ANSI text terminal, e.g. inside an xterm.

And I occasionally use aha, the Ansi HTML Adapter to convert a colorful terminal content into HTML to show off terminal screenshots without the requirement of a picture — so that it also works in e.g. text browsers or for blinds.

Combining chafa and aha: Examples

A moment ago I had the thought what would happen if I feed the output of chafa into aha and expected nothing really usable. But I was surprised by the quality of the outcome.

looks like this after chafa -w 9 -c full -s 160x50 DSCN4692.jpg | aha -n:











Checking the Look in Text Browsers

It even looks not that bad in elinks — as far as I know the only text browser which supports CSS and styles:

In Lynx and Links 2, the text composing the image is displayed only in black and white, but you at least can recognise the edges in the picture:

Same Functionality in One Tool?

I knew there was a tool which did this in one step. Seems to have been png2html.

Tried to play around with it, too, but neither really understood how to use it (seems to require a text file for the characters to be used — why?) nor did I really got it working. It always ran until I aborted it and it never filled the target file with any content.

Additionally, png2html insists on one character per pixel, requiring to first properly resize the image before converting to HTML.

The Keyboard in the Pictures

Oh, and btw., the displayed keyboard is my Zlant. The Zlant is a 40% uniform staggered mechanical keyboard. Currently, only Zlant PCBs are available at 1UP Keyboards (USA), i.e. no complete kits.

It is shown with the SA Vilebloom key cap set, currently available at MechSupply (UK).


Publicly owned medicine production [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

*From testing for coronavirus to treating the health impacts of climate change, universal healthcare and publicly owned medicine production are critical components for adapting to the coming crisis.*

War on dissent in 1917 [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

In 1917, the US imposed arbitrary political censorship in the name of war. It was, effectively, a war on dissent.

Sending money directly to individuals [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

US officials are talking about sending money directly to individuals. The question is who will get them, and whether they will be enough to protect people from destitution.

Almost 1/5 of US households have someone who has already lost work.

(satire) Trump Quietly Checks With Aides To Make Sure He’d Be Included In Receiving $1,000 Government Checks

Concentration of wealth and overpopulation [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

Poor people in India live several people to a room, have to carry water home so they can't often wash their hands. A day when they stay home from work, they don't get much food. They can't do much to stop transmission of Covid-19.

Moreover, they are so much in danger of diseases that are more likely to be fatal that they can't give Covid-19 priority. The worst effect of Covid-19 might be the shortage of doctors to treat those other diseases.

The underlying cause of this situation in India is the combination of concentration of wealth and overpopulation.

The US is vulnerable to Covid-19 in the same sort of way, though not to the same degree, because of concentration of wealth and plutocratist crush-the-poor politics.

Biden-Trump election would be a loss for democracy [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

*A Biden-Trump Election Is a Win-Win for Wall Street and a Loss for Our Democracy.*

The author recommends electing Biden anyway, then trying to pressure him to keep his somewhat progressive election promises.

Effects of nasty practices revealed as intolerable [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

Many nasty practices that shouldn't have existed ever are being relaxed now because, in the context of an epidemic, their nasty effects are revealed as intolerable — and because the justifications for them were weak or nonexistent in the first place.

Here's one more example: searching aggressively for people to deport.

And another: pressuring people to pay medical and student debts (but only those owed to New York State).

Alas, new rigid excesses are being imposed, including "Absolutely never meet a friend in person," and new unjust practices, such as "Do your studying, meeting and paying through nonfree software and digital dis-services that will track you."

The former will presumably disappear easily when the epidemic is over, but getting rid of the latter will require a fight. Therefore I continue refusing to use web sites that demand nonfree JS code, and not having a portable phone to track me with.

Violation of quarantine orders in Italy [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

Some Italians have been accused of violating quarantine orders even when they have been told they may have Covid-19.

The article says that the state wants to punish anyone who goes outside even if perse has had no sign of or contact with Covid-19. I've heard a report that Italy is tracking people through their phones so as to make the repression total.

There is no need to repress people that strictly. Occasional meetings of a few people who probably don't have Covid-19 will have little effect to spread it.

NYC thug caught planting marijuana in someone's car [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

A New York City uniformed thug was caught on video planting marijuana in someone's car, to frame him. When the state failed to imprison him for the act of bearing false witness, he did it again and was caught again.

Until we put those thugs away for years, they will continue exploiting their immunity to put honest citizens in prison arbitrarily.



Living a Google-free life with a Huawei phone [OSnews]

Ever wondered what’s it like to run Android without Google’s services and applications? Well, get a Huawei device.

A smartphone UI isn’t much use without apps, of course, and here is where Huawei hits its first hurdle. Huawei has its own store called AppGallery, which it claims is the third largest in the world based on its more than 400 million monthly active users. The vast majority of those users will be in China, of course, where the Google Play Store has never been included alongside AppGallery. If you buy a Mate 30 Pro now anywhere in the world, though, AppGallery is what you get out of the box.

To be blunt, it is not great. I wouldn’t call it barren — there is support from major US companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Snap. You can’t get Chrome, of course, but Opera is there if you want something with desktop sync. But a huge amount of its content is aimed at China, with other big Western names like Facebook, Slack, Netflix, and Twitter missing, which puts the Mate 30 Pro in a more precarious app situation than even the diciest days of Windows Phone. Huawei has announced a $1 billion plan to help stock AppGallery’s shelves, but it has its work cut out.

A bigger problem is that even if you can get popular applications installed, they often won’t work properly because the device lacks the Google Mobile Services. It’s an incredibly hard situation for Huawei to be in.


Sleep Well, Brun [QC RSS]

Be careful out there


[$] Weekly Edition for March 26, 2020 []

The Weekly Edition for March 26, 2020 is available.


RIP, WIlliam Dufris [Whatever]

William Dufris was a voice actor known for a number of high profile roles, the most famous being “Bob the Builder” from the children’s television show of the same name. More relevantly for me, he was the narrator of five of the audiobooks in the Old Man’s War series (excepting Zoe’s Tale, which was narrated by Tavia Gilbert, who also co-narrated The End of All Things with Dufris). In the last couple of days he passed on from cancer, and I have to say I’m in a bit of shock about it. He did such a good job with the books that the voice I hear coming out of John Perry and Harry Wilson is no longer my own but his.

He will be missed by many, and also by me. RIP, sir.

Wednesday, 25 March


[$] Helping FOSS conferences in the face of a pandemic []

The effects of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic are horrific and far-reaching; we really do not yet know just how bad it will get. One far less serious area that has been affected is conferences for and about free and open-source software (FOSS). On the grand scale, these problems are pretty low on the priority list. There are a fair number of non-profit organizations behind the gatherings, however, that have spent considerable sums setting up now-canceled events or depend on the conferences for a big chunk of their budget—or both. A new organization, FOSS Responders, has formed to try to help out.


Sylvestre Ledru: Some clang rebuild results (8.0.1, 9.0.1 & 10rc2) [Planet Debian]

As part of the LLVM release cycle, I am continuing rebuilding the Debian archive with clang instead of gcc to evaluate potential regressions.

Processed results are available on the website: - Now includes some fancy graphs to show the evolution
Raw logs are published on github:

Since my last blog post on the subject (August 2017), Clang is more and more present in the tech ecosystem. It is now the compiler used to build Firefox and Chrome upstream binaries on all the supported architectures/operating systems. More architectures are supported, it has a new linker (lld), a new hybrid IR (MLIR), a lot of checkers in clang-tidy, cross-language linking with Rust, etc.


Now, about Debian results, we rebuilt using 8.0.1, 9.0.1 and 10.0rc2. Results are pretty similar to what we had with previous versions: between 4 to 5% of packages are failing when gcc is replaced by clang.

Some clang rebuild results (8.0.1, 9.0.1 &amp; 10rc2)

Even if most of the software are still using gcc as compiler, we can see that clang has a positive effect on code quality. With many different kinds of errors and warnings found clang over the years, we noticed a steady decline of the number of errors. For example, the number of incorrect C/C++ main declarations has been decreasing years after years:

Some clang rebuild results (8.0.1, 9.0.1 &amp; 10rc2)

Errors found  

The biggest offender is still the qmake changes which doesn't allow the used workaround (replacing /usr/bin/gcc by /usr/bin/clang) - about 250 errors. Most of these packages would probably compile fine with clang. More on the Qt bug tracker. The workaround proposed in the bug isn't applicable for us as we use the dropped-in replacement of the compiler.

The second error is still some differences in symbol generation. Unlike gcc, it seems that clang doesn't generate some symbols (or adds some). As a bunch of Debian packages are checking the list of symbols in the library (for ABI management), the build fails on purpose. For example, with libcec, the symbol _ZN10P8PLATFORM14CConditionImplD1Ev@Base 3.1.0 isn't generated anymore. I am not expecting this to be a big deal: the generated libraries probably works most of the time. More on C++ symbol management in Debian.
I reported this bug upstream a while back:

Current status  

As previously said in a blog post, I don't think there is a strong intensive to go away from gcc for most of the Linux distributions. The big reason for BSD was the license (even if the move to the Apache 2 license wasn't received positively by some of them).
While the LLVM/clang ecosystem clearly won the tooling battle, as a C/C++ compiler, gcc is still an excellent compiler which supports more architecture and more languages.
In term of new warnings and checks, as the clang community moved the efforts in clang-tidy (which requires more complex tooling), out of the box, gcc provides a better experience (as example, see the Firefox meta bug to build with -Werror with the default warnings using gcc 9, gcc 10 and clang trunk for example).

Next steps  

I see some potential next steps to decrease the number of failure:

  • Workaround the Qt/Qmake issue
  • Fix the objective-c header include issues (echo "#include <objc/objc.h>" > foo.m && clang -c foo.m is currently failing)
  • Identify why clang generates more/less symbols that gcc in the library and try to fix that
  • Rebuild the archive with clang-7 - Seems that I have some data problem

Many thanks to Lucas Nussbaum for the rebuilds.


Link [Scripting News]

I find this mesmerizing.



Link [Scripting News]

I have a friend whose birthday is today. This is what I wrote on her timeline. "Not much chance of a happy birthday this year, so I wish you some happiness today, maybe for a few moments before the sense of dread takes over again. This is what passes for birthday greetings in 2020."

2020 Brings the Death of IT [I, Cringely]

My new column is below, so don’t forget to read it, but now for something completely different…

I’m running two virtual panels this week as part of’s Digital Online Fashion Summit. Anina’s the pretty girl next to me on the top of this page. She lives in Beijing and this will be a global event.

Digital Fashion Online Summit
March 28th – 29th, 2020

A two-day online event for fashion brands, marketing managers, product directors, and online strategists. Speeches are starting at 10 AM and running all day every hour. Join us online at

Learn from top fashion and technology experts which technologies to invest in to bring your brand online and in the lead. With the year starting off with COVID-19, many events have been canceled, with people traveling less, and turning to online for entertainment, shopping, and connection.

How can brands stay in front of their eyes and create a meaningful connection? Using 3D e-commerce, Fit Technologies, Live Streaming, and Artificial intelligence to predict connect, and create a sustainable future! Now is the moment to tech-up to make it to the end of the year!

Now, back to our regular programming…

IT — Information Technology — grew out of something we called MIS — Management Information Systems — but both meant a kid in a white shirt who brought you a new keyboard when yours broke. Well, the kid is now gone, sent home with everyone else, and that kid isn’t coming back… ever. IT is near death, fading by the day. But don’t blame COVID-19 because the death of IT was inevitable. This novel coronavirus just made it happen a little quicker.

I mentioned the switch from MIS to IT because that name change presaged the events I am describing here. Management Information Systems was an artifact of big business, where corporate life was managed rather than lived. Information Technology happened when MIS escaped into the wild. MIS meant office buildings and Local Area Networks while IT includes home workers in their pajamas which, frankly, describes me at this precise moment.

To quote the immortal Al Mandel (why am I the only one who ever quotes the immortal Al?) “the step after ubiquity is invisibility.” IT was the last visible vestige of MIS and now it, too, is gone.

But wait, who will replace my keyboard?

Amazon has been replacing all of our keyboards for some time now, along with our mice and our failed cables, and even entire PCs.

IT has been changing steadily from kids taking elevators up from the sub-basement to Amazon Prime trucks rolling-up to your mailbox.

At the same time, our network providers have been working to limit their truck rolls entirely. Stop by the Comcast storefront to get your cable modem, because nobody is going to come to install it if you aren’t the first person living there to have cable.

Two technical trends are at work here, one having to do with hardware and the other having to do with networking. Both are driven mainly by economics.

Networking is in the lead here, because the hardware transition can’t happen unless the network enables it. The network transition I’m talking about is MPLS to SD-WAN to SASE. I’ll now explain what these acronyms mean, but if you only care about investing the punchline to this whole column is INVEST IN SASE, which right now primarily means Cato Networks and Fortinet and probably a bunch of startups.

In the beginning, there was Bob Metcalfe and Ethernet and God saw that both were good, but Ethernet was a protocol for Local Area Networks (LANs) that didn’t work nearly as well when business was extended beyond the building. In those days pulling the boss’s home office into the LAN required a fractional T-1 line that cost maybe $600 per month — too much for anyone but Mr. Bigshot.

Then came Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), a protocol for efficient network traffic flow between two or more locations. The idea behind MPLS was to encapsulate data packets so they could be extended beyond the LAN over almost any network technology, even home DSL links from the phone company.

MPLS required a new, more expensive router, so of course, Cisco and Juniper loved it. And MPLS worked a treat, but its bandwidth costs were high. Ironically, it’s not DSL or Cable bandwidth we’re talking about but corporate bandwidth, because it was at the corporate router where the computationally expensive encapsulation and de-encapsulation were taking place. So while MPLS was way cheaper than buying multiple T-1s, it was still expensive.

Now this story takes on a social, or maybe cultural, theme, which is consumer demand for increased bandwidth. Corporate networks were built for corporate applications, which is to say e-mail, file transfer, and, eventually, Voice-over IP (VoIP) phones — all low-bandwidth applications. Consumer networks, in contrast, were built for pornography — a high-bandwidth application.

Oh, and for Netflix, too.

Because the applications consumers used on their home networks were so much better than those on their corporate networks, users began to complain, asking for more and more bandwidth so they could teleconference and use social media. And because more bandwidth brought a bigger budget and more corporate-political power to the MIS-cum-IT department, the guys in white shirts were happy to help.

Ironically, it ultimately meant helping themselves out of their jobs.

The demand for higher bandwidth from MPLS begat SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Networking).

If you read online about these topics (MPLS and SD-WAN) most of what you’ll find is marketing information intended to push buyers in one direction or another. What I am writing here is from a somewhat higher-level (and cheekier) perspective, so if it doesn’t exactly agree with the brochure you’ve been reading that doesn’t necessarily mean I am wrong, Mister Smartypants.

MPLS is router-to-router while SD-WAN is effectively node-to-node. It’s networking software running as close to the user as possible, though some vendors put it in an appliance rather than on your PC or phone because they can get your company to pay more money that way. Nobody these days uses all the processor cores in their device, so SD-WAN can operate there just as well as in an appliance, maybe better.

But even SD-WAN is just so, well, 2019. The new technology for 2020 is SASE — Secure Access Service Edge — which takes all the functionality of MPLS and SD-WAN and crunches it into a firewall, running everything in the cloud. So with SASE there is no appliance. There can be no appliance.

For that matter, with SASE (pronounced “sassy,” by the way) there doesn’t even have to be a PC.

SASE extends both the network and a security model end-to-end over any network including 4G or 5G wireless. Some folks will run their applications in their end device, whether it is a PC, phone, tablet, whatever, and some will run their applications in the same cloud as SASE, in which case everything will be that much faster and more secure.

That’s end end-game if there is one — everything in the cloud with your device strictly for input and output, painting screens compressed with HTML5.

It’s the end of IT because your device will no longer contain anything so it can be simply replaced via Amazon if it is damaged or lost, with the IT kid in the white shirt becoming an Uber driver.

Since COVID-19 is trapping us in our homes it is forcing this transition to happen faster than it might have. But it was always going to happen.

And the follow-on implication is that anything we might have done at work short of getting a cup of coffee, contracting a communicable disease, or having an office affair, we’ll forever-more be able to do just as well from home.

I wonder what that portends for commercial real estate?

Digital Branding
Web Design Marketing


Link [Scripting News]

Podcast feed for Cuomo daily briefing. Thanks to Richard Bluestein for doing the conversion to MP3. We now have two episodes. Questions or comments here.


Nothing But Blue Sky [Whatever]

So, here’s a thing I never expected to see again in my lifetime: A sky entirely devoid of contrails, and the planes that make them. This is a 360-degree “photosphere” panorama from my yard, so the entire sky is here, and not altered from the photo that came out of my camera (I did photoshop the yard, since Athena was in it and she didn’t want to be in the final photo). Minus the curving streaks from the sun that are an artifact of the camera lens, there’s nothing but blue sky.

There’s only one other time in my life I’ve seen a sky like this, and it was in similarly extraordinary circumstances. And just like that time, I am amazed to see the sky of my ancestors. I genuinely never thought it would come around again.


Coronavirus, Austerity, Brexit and Bureaucracy [Anarcho's blog]

I have just posted the introduction to my Kropotkin anthology Direct Struggle Against Capital. Hopefully, something interesting to read if you are self-isolating – although I would recommend you buy the book from AK Press as it has a lot of interesting and often rare works by Kropotkin in it. Here I plan to make a few comments about the coronavirus crisis and Brexit.

read more

The Pirate Bay’s Oldest Active Torrent Turns 16 Years Old Today [TorrentFreak]

The Pirate Bay has weathered quite a few storms since its inception.

The notorious torrent site, which is a piracy icon today, was originally founded by Swedish anti-copyright think tank Piratbyrån during the summer of 2003.

In the years that followed, a lot has happened. The site was raided twice, had various changes in ownership, and the original co-founders were sentenced to prison. And in recent years, prolonged downtime issues, as the site currently faces, are the rule rather than the exception.

Despite all these setbacks and challenges, TPB is still here. It remains accessible on the Tor network, where the latest blockbusters, as well as some rare old torrents, remain readily available.

While torrents rely on at least one active seed to keep them alive, some files have proven to be quite resilient. In fact, quite a few torrents are older than some of the site’s younger users.

Today, The Pirate Bay’s oldest active torrent celebrates its sixteenth anniversary. The honor goes to an episode of the Swedish comedy show “High Chaparral,” which was uploaded by ‘kbdcb’ on March 25, 2004. At the time of writing, the file has one seeder according to TPB’s statistics, but various public trackers list more.

The oldest active torrent on TPB

The High Chaparral episode has been marked as the oldest active Pirate Bay torrent for a while. In the video category, it is currently followed by a copy of the 2001 documentary Revolution OS, which still has over a dozen seeders.

Looking at other categories, we see that the oldest active music torrent is an album from the Swedish pop group Gyllene Tider, titled “Samtliga hits!” The oldest game torrent is a copy of the Lord of the Rings strategy game War of the Ring, while a torrent for a really old version of ArcSoft’s photo editing software Funhouse leads the applications category.

If anything, this shows that no matter how much downtime a site like The Pirate Bay suffers, these torrents still survive.

That the High Chaparral episode is the longest surviving torrent on the site is remarkable for another reason as well. A few weeks after the torrent was uploaded, several people complained that they were stuck at 99%, which means that there was no seeder around at the time.

Years later, people started to notice that it had become the oldest torrent on The Pirate Bay, including MasterWAV, who dedicated an entry in his or her diary to this discovery.

“Dear diary, my heart burst of excitement to discover the oldest torrent in The Pirate Bay. I am happy to comment on this book and be part of the history of TPB. It’s like climbing Everest. Sincerely, thanks.”

Other commenters promised to keep seeding the file “forever,” which may be the prime reason why it’s still around today.

While sixteen years is impressive, there are even older torrents available on the Internet. “The Fanimatrix” torrent file holds the all-time record. It was created in September 2003 and, after being previously resurrected, continues to be available today with more than 100 people seeding.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.


Daring Adventures, Narrow Escapes, and a Bundle of 007 Comics [Humble Bundle Blog]

Dynamite is back with a bundle full of 007 comics! Follow the British secret agent through daring adventures and narrow

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O'Reilly shutting down its conference group []

O'Reilly has announced that it is canceling all of its upcoming in-person conferences and shutting down its conference group permanently. "Without understanding when this global health emergency may come to an end, we can’t plan for or execute on a business that will be forever changed as a result of this crisis. With large technology vendors moving their events completely on-line, we believe the stage is set for a new normal moving forward when it comes to in-person events." There is still no notice to this effect on the OSCON page, but one assumes that is coming.

US Government Sites Give Bad Security Advice [Krebs on Security]

Many U.S. government Web sites now carry a message prominently at the top of their home pages meant to help visitors better distinguish between official U.S. government properties and phishing pages. Unfortunately, part of that message is misleading and may help perpetuate a popular misunderstanding about Web site security and trust that phishers have been exploiting for years now.

For example, the official U.S. Census Bureau website carries a message that reads, “An official Web site of the United States government. Here’s how you know.” Clicking the last part of that statement brings up a panel with the following information:

A message displayed at the top of many U.S. .gov Web sites.

The text I have a beef with is the bit on the right, beneath the “This site is secure” statement. Specifically, it says, “The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website….”

Here’s the deal: The https:// part of an address (also called “Secure Sockets Layer” or SSL) merely signifies the data being transmitted back and forth between your browser and the site is encrypted and cannot be read by third parties.

However, the presence of “https://” or a padlock in the browser address bar does not mean the site is legitimate, nor is it any proof the site has been security-hardened against intrusion from hackers.

In other words, while readers should never transmit sensitive information to a site that does not use https://, the presence of this security feature tells you nothing about the trustworthiness of the site in question.

Here’s a sobering statistic: According to PhishLabs, by the end of 2019 roughly three-quarters (74 percent) of all phishing sites were using SSL certificates. PhishLabs found this percentage increased from 68% in Q3 and 54% in Q2 of 2019.

“Attackers are using free certificates on phishing sites that they create, and are abusing the encryption already installed on hacked web sites,” PhishLabs founder and CTO John LaCour said.


The truth is anyone can get an SSL certificate for free, and that’s a big reason why most phishing sites now have them. The other reason is that they help phishers better disguise their sites as legitimate, since many Web browsers now throw up security warnings on non-https:// sites.

KrebsOnSecurity couldn’t find any reliable information on how difficult it may be to obtain an SSL certificate for a .gov site once one has a .gov domain, but it is apparently not difficult for just about anyone to get their very own .gov domain name.

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), which oversees the issuance of .gov domains, recently made it a tiny bit more difficult to do so — by requiring all applications be notarized — but this seems a small hurdle for scam artists to clear.

Regardless, it seems the federal government is doing consumers a disservice with this messaging, by perpetuating the myth that the presence of “https://” in a link denotes any kind of legitimacy.

“‘Https’ does not mean that you are at the correct website or that the site is secure,” LaCour said. “It only indicates that the connection is encrypted. The server could still be misconfigured or have software vulnerabilities. It is good that they mention to look for ‘.gov’. There’s no guarantee that a .gov website is secure, but it should help ensure that visitors are on the right website.”

I should note that this misleading message seems to be present only on some federal government Web sites. For instance, while the sites for the GSA, the Department of Labor, Department of Transportation, and Department of Veterans Affairs all include the same wording, those for the Commerce Department and Justice Department are devoid of the misleading text, stating:

“This site is also protected by an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate that’s been signed by the U.S. government. The https:// means all transmitted data is encrypted — in other words, any information or browsing history that you provide is transmitted securely.”

Other federal sites — like, and — simply have the “An official website of the United States government” declaration at the top, without offering any tips about how to feel better about that statement.


Urgent: No habeas corpus suspension [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

US citizens: call on Congress to refuse the demand to suspend habeas corpus. Doing so would allow thugs to arrest people and jail them for any length of time.

Urgent: no interfering with investigations [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

US citizens: call on Senator McConnell to stop interfering with who will have the job of investigating the alleged corruption of Elaine Chao, Saboteur of Transportation, who is (as it happens) his wife.

Urgent: investigate possible profiteers [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

US citizens: call for an investigation of each congresscritter or senator who is suspected of profiting from Covid-19 by selling stock based on inside information.

Commentary about this issue.

Urgent: put a stop on Covid-19 disinformation [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

US citizens: call on the FCC to use its authority to put a stop to dangerous Covid-19 disinformation on broadcast TV.

Urgent: keep people safe in prisons [Richard Stallman's Political Notes]

US citizens: call for many steps to keep people safe from catching Covid-19 in prison.


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