Shared posts

29 Nov 15:15

Valerie Tarico isn’t afraid to use the word “terrorism”

by PZ Myers

She knows what’s up.

On November 27, a mass shooting left three dead and nine wounded at a Planned Parenthood clinic just miles from the headquarters of the Religious Right flagship, Focus on the Family. Was the shooting exactly what conservative Christian presidential candidates and members of congress wanted? Maybe, maybe not. But it is what they asked for. Republican members of the Religious Right incited violence as predictably as if they had issued a call for Christian abortion foes to take up arms. Inciting violence this way is called stochastic terrorism:

“Stochastic terrorism is the use of mass communications to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable. In short, remote-control murder by lone wolf.”

In an incident of stochastic terrorism, the person who pulls the trigger gets the blame. He—I use the male pronoun deliberately because the triggerman is almost always male—may go to jail or even be killed during his act of violence. Meanwhile, the person or persons who have triggered the triggerman, in other words, the actual stochastic terrorists, often go free, protected by plausible deniability.

She’s also not afraid to name names.

We can be confident that communications teams for Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum and others are scrambling at this very moment to figure out the nuances of plausible deniability—weighing how best to distance themselves from the violence that killed a police officer and two others without making their protestations of surprised dismay sound as hollow as they actually are—without actually denouncing the disgust and dehumanization of women who have abortions and those who provide them.

But of course they’re going to get away with it. They’ve got obedient masses who were trained in the churches to obey authorities.

29 Nov 15:01

Well, that’s all right then

by PZ Myers

The man who murdered people in a Planned Parenthood clinic was a “gentle itinerant loner”, accorded to the New York Times. He went to church, read the Bible cover to cover, and had an assortment of guns, so I guess he couldn’t have been that bad. He just wanted to be left alone.


At least they don’t say he’s crazy, the usual go-to excuse when a white man goes on a misogynistic murder spree. Progress! But they still don’t take that necessary next step of noting that someone who tries to intimidate people with violence is, of course, a terrorist. Terrorism is only a word to be deployed against Muslims, it seems.

But still, you can read between the lines. You know how after a psychopath is caught, there’s usually a litany of interviews with former neighbors saying how he was such a perfectly normal, ordinary guy? Not with Robert L. Dear.

Mr. Davis said he was unsurprised to see Mr. Dear, whom he described as “a pretty poorly adjusted guy,” emerge as the suspect in the Colorado shooting.

“I think I would have thought he was a guy who would go on a rampage,” he said. “We were very wary.”

The most chilling line to me was just a few words from Dear:

On, the writer said in December 2005: “AIDS, hurricanes, we are in the end times. Accept the LORD JESUS while you can.”

Have you ever noticed that while Americans will freak out over Muslims praying on an airplane, we think nothing of the huge army of death-cultists in our midst, people who are certain the world is going to end soon (and welcome its destruction!) and who want to steer our representatives and policy towards Armageddon? No big deal. A bunch of smiling used car salesmen live among us, own whole television networks, serve in congress, and they grin and assure us that our death is imminent and well-deserved, and we shrug and ignore them until one snaps and opens fire with his constitutionally protected semi-automatic rifle.

It’s so reassuring to know that the New York Times will report our demise in its blandly neutral tone, as long as the shooter is good white Christian.

28 Nov 15:59

Atheists should not condemn any culture

by PZ Myers

We atheists don’t need better leaders; we need leaders who are willing to step back and stop dominating the conversation, and dominating badly. Once again, Richard Dawkins has bungled the big conversation we ought to be having. Once again, he seems obsessed with a 15 year old kid who made a clock.

Don't call him "clock boy" since he never made a clock. Hoax Boy, having hoaxed his way into the White House, now wants $15M in addition!

— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) November 24, 2015

Don’t call him “clock boy” since he never made a clock. Hoax Boy, having hoaxed his way into the White House, now wants $15M in addition!

I could be sympathetic. I agree with Dawkins that suing the school that suspended him for $15 million dollars, as Ahmed Mohamed’s parents are doing, is absurd and unjustifiable, especially when it got him so much positive attention. There is a point to slapping the school down hard for prejudiced behavior that they don’t seem to realize even yet that was bad and bigoted, but to the tune of many millions of dollars? It’s a ridiculous sum that is just going to dissipate what good will he had, and inflame people like Dawkins who resented his notoriety already.

But Dawkins goes further. Yes, he made a clock. Yes, he reassembled components from a clock to do it, but that is still a legitimate effort. It’s like complaining that someone built a circuit board with a standard timing chip, and then claiming that they didn’t really build it because they didn’t design the contents of the IC. Or like claiming that The Selfish Gene wasn’t a real contribution because it just repackages the work of Maynard Smith and Hamilton (no, I’m not arguing that: despite having no new math or observations, that book was a powerful telling of the story). A kid taking electronics apart and putting it together again isn’t revolutionary, but it’s a step in his education that ought to be encouraged.

And now the anti-Muslim sentiment has gone too far. Richard Dawkins and Bill Maher — a combination to bring out the worst in both — got together to damn everything Muslim.

Oh, that’s their culture, you have to respect it, Dawkins said mockingly.

That’s right! That’s what they say. It’s just insane, Maher said, swooning.

Liberal about everything else, but then this one exception, ‘It’s their culture.’ Well, to hell with their culture, Dawkins concluded, to a storm of applause and a passionate yelp of approval from Maher.

To hell with their culture? I despise all religions, and I can sneer at every hateful thing that emerges out of a culture, every culture — but to ignore the good to condemn the bad, to make sweeping dismissals of entire complex traditions…I am sorry, Professor Dawkins, but that is bigotry. To forgive the sins of one culture because of the things one likes about it, while damning another culture wholesale because you don’t like certain parts of it (even when those parts are unforgiveably evil) is something that perpetuates conflict.

Keep in mind that Dawkins likes many things about his culture.

‘I’m kind of grateful to the Anglican tradition,’ he admits, ‘for its benign tolerance. I sort of suspect that many who profess Anglicanism probably don’t believe any of it at all in any case but vaguely enjoy, as I do… I suppose I’m a cultural Anglican and I see evensong in a country church through much the same eyes as I see a village cricket match on the village green. I have a certain love for it.’ Would he ever go into a church? ‘Well yes, maybe I would.’

There are billions of people who are culturally Muslim, who have fond sentiments about their experiences and traditions within Islam. What would Professor Dawkins say if one of them said, “To Hell with Western culture”, citing genocide in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, witch burnings, inquisitions, wars of mass destruction, racism, and colonialism? How can you talk about evensong and cricket matches, as if they somehow excuse the rot at the core?

And I can predict his answer, because I’ve heard its like many times before: that Christianity has mellowed, is less destructive, and doesn’t inspire the frenzy of hatred that Islam does, and all of those horrors are in the past. To which I would only say…racist police, Planned Parenthood killings, murders of trans gender people, Scott Lively, Westboro Baptist, the American prison system, the drone war, unfettered capitalism, our predatory attitude towards the environment.

How many cricket fields am I permitted to shit upon for all that? How many Anglican hymnals shall we burn to repudiate those other heinous products of our culture?

Every ex-Muslim can recite a litany of horrors that Islam perpetrates. But I don’t think most would argue that we need to erase the history of the Middle East, Asia, North Africa, and contributions all around the world. We should not ignore the Islamic gifts to literature, poetry, music, mathematics, and science; we must not forget that these are human beings who may feel the deepest love for their culture as a whole, even as they deplore aspects of it.

I want to embrace Islamic culture as a significant part of the human experience, even while I reject the barbarisms within it, exactly as I am a child of Western culture who wants to see our flaws recognized and corrected. My hope for the future isn’t a world of uniformity, but one where we can enjoy each others’ differences and not kill each other for them.

Richard Dawkins is a smart guy, and we see these glimmerings of appreciation for the complexity of human life (how can he not, as a biologist?) in his writings — I hope he can see that he’s taking the wrong path. Even more importantly, I hope atheists everywhere can learn that he’s not the atheist leader we need…and that maybe we shouldn’t be looking for a man to tell us what to think at all.

29 Nov 19:37

swagyoulater: Couldn’t have said it better myself


Couldn’t have said it better myself

29 Nov 19:34

Yes, he’s a terrorist.

29 Nov 17:16

How Did the Dinosaurs Die?



How Did the Dinosaurs Die?

One of our earliest science lessons: fitting, since our new free book features many dinosaurs.

Learn about our interactive story “You’re A Scientist” - free in digital, free to print, and with a giftable copy available.

29 Nov 00:02

oldfutures: On This Day November 28 1975 • Space:1999 -...

28 Nov 21:52

"In case anyone was wondering how the Republican presidential candidates feel about the shooting that..."

“In case anyone was wondering how the Republican presidential candidates feel about the shooting that took place in a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood earlier today, their silence says it all. Not a single Republican candidate has made any kind of statement, ten hours after it began. No empty calls for prayers or even distasteful victim-shaming pro-gun rhetoric. Marco Rubio somehow found time to tweet about sales in his campaign shop and Donald Trump decided this was a good enough time as any to release a statement insulting a disabled journalist for asking too many questions. Democratic candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have both expressed their support for Planned Parenthood and their condolences for the victims.”

- Republican Presidential Candidates Silent On The Terrorist Attack They Incited |
28 Nov 04:43

torteen: itsthelittlebluecar: You can have your turducken…I...



You can have your turducken…I prefer the meaterprise

The turkey is for Thursday’s traditional Thanksgiving feast…the meaterprise is for Friday’s hodgepodge leftover celebration! Right? Well, it is at my house!

28 Nov 01:31

28 Nov 00:54

mydrunkkitchen: I don’t understand people that use judgement and criticism to somehow get the...


I don’t understand people that use judgement and criticism to somehow get the results they want. Like parents who tell their children that they are living in a sty and it’s filthy and disgusting and all that stuff. Does that sound motivating to you? It’s like “Oh. Thank you for taking a shit on my existence. I absolutely want to clean it now.”

Why can’t more people be like “Hey, I’ve noticed you’re living in squalor. Are you depressed?” or even better like “You know, honey, you always feel more motivated and happier when your room is clean. Want to spend some time doing that? We can go to lunch later if you get it done this morning.”

I mean like… that sounds awesome, right? Compliments? LUNCH??? I’m game. I trick myself with rewards all the time. For instance, right now I just finished breaking down a bunch of boxes for recycling. You know what my reward was? Writing this!

Anywho. Brain thoughts.

27 Nov 22:08

Vtech breach dumps 4.8m families' information, toy security is to blame

by Cory Doctorow


Vtech is a ubiquitous Hong Kong-based electronic toy company whose kiddy tablets and other devices are designed to work with its cloud service, which requires parents to set up accounts for their kids. 4.8 million of those accounts just breached, leaking a huge amount of potentially compromising information, from kids' birthdays and home addresses to parents passwords and password hints. (more…)

27 Nov 19:31

What the 1980s would have made of the $5 Raspberry Pi

by Cory Doctorow


The new Raspberry Pi Zero is a $5 general purpose computer, manufactured in Wales, with more power than a 1980s personal computer. (more…)

27 Nov 18:59

Cable caught in street sweeper causes bizarre car accident

by Mark Frauenfelder


In China, a cable got snarled in the rotating broom of a street sweeper. A reddit user who understands Mandarin explained what happened in more detail:

A telephone pole was being installed. There was a steel cable that was coiled on the road that (they believed) should have been no problem for cars going over it. The street sweeper truck on the right went over it and wound up the cable in the rotating cleaner. The other end of the cable was attached to the pole on the left of the video. The cable was brought taut and caused all that damage to the trucks and car.

26 Nov 02:24

AIDS-drug-gouging hedge-douche reneges on promise to cut prices for Daraprim

by Cory Doctorow


Martin Shkreli, the hedge-fund douche-bro who hiked the price of an off-patent drug used by AIDS and cancer patients from $13.50 to $750, then promised to lower the prices after becoming the Most Hated Man on the Internet did no such thing, because he is a liar. (more…)

25 Nov 13:55

Meet ISIS's Newest Recruits

by Ruben Bolling

Tom the Dancing Bug 1265 recruitment poster

Follow @RubenBolling on Twitter and Facebook.

Please join Tom the Dancing Bug's subscription club, the INNER HIVE, for early access to comics, and more.

You can get both EMU Club Adventures books, signed, sketched and delivered in time for the holidays here.

More Tom the Dancing Bug comics on Boing Boing! (more…)

24 Nov 08:17

The Katering Show - New News for Season Twos

by Lead Balloon TV

The Katering Show Season 2 - Premiering on iView in 2016

Guys! You've waited so long and been so patient. But now the wait is over. It's finally here! Another fucking update about The Katering Show Season Two. You're welcome.

Get more Katering:
Explore Katering:
Follow Katering:
See Katering:
Like Katering:
24 Nov 05:01


by Robot Hugs

New comic!

So I actually have this exact conversation about once a week.

It’s funny, but it also ties into stuff that I’ve been struggling with over the past year – about how to present in a way that feels true to myself, that communicates my identity to other people, and that is also comfortable and work/life appropriate. Clothes and fashion are a core part of presentation, of course. And I really do hate pants. They’re uncomfortable and any time I am wearing pants about 10% of my brain is dedicated to wishing intensely that I wasn’t wearing pants. But I have a tricky gender to communicate and someone with my body wearing skirts or dresses has an uphill battle to fight in terms of getting the people around me to get my gender correct, even those who already know, because we read cues from clothing and are aggressively socialized to consider anyone wearing dresses to be women (while less feminine clothing is less gender specific – the more typically male fashion is, the more people read it as general rather than gendered). So genderqueer fashion options still skew very dapper/masc, and that’s great, but that’s also not really how I feel and I spend an annoying amount of time just wishing I knew what to wear that would be comfortable, that would support my gender identity, and would make me feel less unhappy about dressing every morning.

Whatever that clothing configuration is, I sure hope it doesn’t have a lot of pants, because fuck pants.


23 Nov 18:34

A 14-Year-Old Just Solved A Rubik’s Cube In Under Five Seconds

by Oliver Roeder

When I click through to the article that has a slowed down animation of the solution, my brain exploded. I've always sucked at Rubik's cubes. Sure, I haven't touched one in decades, but still, I wasn't much younger than the current world record holder.


Fourteen-year-old Lucas Etter is now the Roger Bannister of the Rubik’s cube. On Saturday, Etter became the first person to solve a Rubik’s cube in less than five seconds under sanctioned competitive conditions. That’s the kind of breakthrough that Bannister made in 1954 when he became the first person to run a mile in less than four minutes. Etter’s time was 4.90 seconds, 0.35 seconds better than the record-holder going into Saturday’s competition, Collin Burns.14 The chart above shows the progression of the official world record, according to the World Cube Association.

In these competitions, the colorful cubes are randomly scrambled according to a computer program, and a solver has 15 seconds to inspect a cube before racing to spin it back to its organized state. The first official record — 22.95 seconds — was set at the first world championship, held in 1982 in Hungary, home country of the cube’s inventor, Erno Rubik. But speed cubing went into hibernation for two decades, until the next world championship was held in 2003. From there, the record has fallen precipitously, thanks to innovations like the Fridrich method, the Petrus system and even “cube lube.”

If you’re curious what it looks like to solve a Rubik’s cube in less than five seconds, here’s video of Etter’s feat, which occurred at a tournament in Clarksville, Maryland.

23 Nov 15:20

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - An Empirical Christmas


Hovertext: Also, birthdays will be replaced by nulldays in order to gather data.

New comic!
Today's News:

Last day to submit a proposal for one of the two BAHFest London shows! 

24 Nov 19:21

The greatest video of all time.

The greatest video of all time.

24 Nov 17:43

Richard Dawkins Sounds Like a Paranoid Child Hating Conspiracy Theorist

by Amy Roth

No, really. Don’t accept my opinion on it, just go look at his twitter feed and be sure to note the glorious RT’s he is making.

What got him riled up this time you ask? He saw in the news that a teen-aged ISIS member horrifically executed someone. So he linked to a photo of that execution and instead of being a genuine and insightful leader and speaking out against the atrocities of that particular violence, he instead directed his anger and hyperbolic tweets (sent to his 1.3 million followers) towards the young American Muslim boy who made a clock for his science class. He used that image to talk about the young American boy, Ahmed.

Yeah, that’s right. Remember Texas schoolboy Ahmed Mohamed? Dawkins sure does and calls him “Hoax Boy”, which if you google, has become a meme! How meta!

After being arrested and humiliated for doing his science homework, Ahmed accepted a scholarship in Qatar and is currently suing Texas for 15 million dollars and asking for a written apology from the local mayor and the police chief. Seems about right to me. And someone might want to add Dawkins to that apology list cuz he seems convinced that Ahmed and his family are organized scam artists embroiled in some sort of cash-grab opportunist conspiracy plot– and Richard refuses to shut up about it.

"But he's only a kid." Yes, a "kid" old enough to sue for $15M those whom he hoaxed. And how old is this "kid"?

— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) November 24, 2015

@yodat_nioj OK, I'll spell it out. People are defending Clock Hoax Boy by saying "He's only a kid." My point is kids can do the indefensible

— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) November 24, 2015

@boringfileclerk No, I just want to alert the gullible fools who fell for his scam. And STILL fall for it even after his $15M demand!

— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) November 24, 2015

Read his feed for more!

You know, for the past few years I have done my best to keep my head down and avoid the mainstream skeptic and atheist communities because I received so much hate during the time that Dawkins attacked this blog and Rebecca that it made me not want to have anything to do with the so-called “community.” I can only imagine what atheism looks like to an outsider who doesn’t have friends who are out atheists when they see arguably the most influential man in the atheist community spending his time picking on feminists, social justice activists… and now children.

I said this on my twitter but I’ll say it here before I go back to having a lovely day carving out my own world away from the stereotypical angry atheists:

Remember everyone, the goal is to “punch up” when dismantling or making fun of hierarchies such as religion and racism, not down. If you can “punch down” you are already displaying your power differential. You have more. Taking more doesn’t change the system of oppression. But you all are smart and already know this and can see through the BS and pointlessness of hero worship and bigotry. The emperor’s clothes are fading.

featured image wiki creatives commons via:

24 Nov 18:56

North Korean interiors look like a Wes Anderson film set

by Mark Frauenfelder


Architecture critic Oliver Wainwright recently went to North Korea and took photos of colorful, symmetrical building interiors that look a lot like a Wes Anderson film set.

24 Nov 18:07

What's the difference between sweet potatoes and yams?

by Mark Frauenfelder


After watching this video, I realize I've never eaten a yam. According to the President of the Sweet Potato Council, yams in the United States are only found in "specialty stores." Yams have been a staple in some African countries for centuries, and when slaves were brought to the US, they referred to sweet potatoes as "yams." The name stuck.

23 Nov 20:06

Are you PC?

by Iain

For some time now LEGO artist Chris McVeigh has been bringing us palm-sized chunks of hi-tech nostalgia heaven, such as his Atari 2600 and Apple Macintosh kits. But now Chris jumps into the unfashionable-yet-practical camp of “IBM compatibles” with this picture-perfect 80’s era DOS computer. This certainly brings memories of my first tech job flooding back – twin floppies, Hammer pants, and all.

The kit is currently available for pre-order from Chris’ store. Or if you prefer, as of today you can now download the instructions and build one from your own collection of bricks. But here’s all the narly stuff you’ll get if you order the full kit:

Relive the ’80s with this incredibly detailed 285-piece retro computer model custom design! Pop off the computer’s chassis to see its fully-equipped interior, which includes disk drives, expansion cards and power supply. Additional features include:
• Custom-printed processor tile for added detail
• Custom-printed display slopes featuring a choice of two prompts, A>_ and C:\_
• An extra tile allows you to switch one of the diskette drives to a hard disk

I know what I’m putting at the top of my list of stocking stuffers this Christmas! Hmmm, but I guess the important question is: Have I been naughty or nice?

23 Nov 19:20

US cops seized more through asset forfeiture in 2014 than US criminals stole through burglary

by Cory Doctorow


US police seized $4.5 billion through civil asset forfeiture (through which police can take money and valuables away from citizens without charging anyone with any crimes) in 2014; in the same period, the FBI estimates that burglars accounted for $3.9B in property losses.


23 Nov 18:02

Not just Lenovo: Dell ships computers with self-signed root certificates

by Cory Doctorow


Last February, Lenovo shocked its security-conscious customers by pre-installing its own, self-signed root certificates on the machines it sold. These certificates, provided by a spyware advertising company called Superfish, made it possible for attackers create "secure" connections to undetectable fake versions of banking sites, corporate intranets, webmail providers, etc. (more…)

23 Nov 17:40

An Army colonel is in trouble for complaining that a $500k gas station cost $43 million to build

by Mark Frauenfelder


Army Col. John Hope blew the whistle on a task force that spent $43 million to build a useless gas station in Afghanistan. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction says the useless gas station should have cost about $500,000. As a result of pointing out the doubly wasteful project, Hope has “been singled out for retaliation and retribution” for “speaking truth,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

The gas station is useless because it supplies natural gas to cars that have been converted to run on natural gas. But there are hardly any cars that run on natural gas in Afghanistan, and the cost to convert a car to run on natural gas is $700. The average annual income in Afghanistan is $690, according to the Washington Post.

More from the Washington Post:

The high cost of the gas station has angered many in Congress. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) has scheduled a hearing on it for next month. And Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said it was one of the worst cases of wasteful spending that she has ever seen.

“There are few things in this job that literally make my jaw drop,” she said in a statement. “But of all the examples of wasteful projects in Iraq and Afghanistan that the Pentagon began prior to our wartime contracting reforms, this genuinely shocked me.”

The contractor, Central Asian Engineering Construction Company, originally bid $3 million to build the gas station, which is already an order of magnitude too much to charge. How they ended up charging $43 million is a mystery. I wonder who owns Central Asian Engineering Construction Company?

23 Nov 14:30

You think holiday air travel sucks? Try flying while disabled. On American Airlines.

by Sawyer Rosenstein


If I could walk, I wouldn’t have missed my connection.

If I could walk, I wouldn’t have been left onboard, twice, after everyone else disembarked.

If I could walk, I wouldn’t have my feet crushed, dragged under a narrow chair, as untrained staff pulled me off a plane.

“We'll still have someone contact you," came the message, at last, after two trips in travel hell. "We don't want to lose your business and hope you won't give up on us.”

But I have given up on American Airlines. They have lost my business. I urge anybody who travels with a disability to consider any other airline.

As a space and aviation writer, I never look forward to writing about a bad experience in the air. Those who use wheelchairs to get around know how unfriendly our friendly skies can become. But I never expected an experience as unpleasant as the one given to me by American Airlines.


23 Nov 11:54

Use the original IBM PC (and play Adventure) in your browser

by Rob Beschizza

original pc

Enjoy the original IBM 5150 PC as implemented in javascript, with various boot images to toy around with.

It was added to the JavaScript Machines project in Fall 2012, and is now part of the PCjs Project on GitHub.… All the simulations are written entirely in JavaScript. No Flash, Java or other plugins are required. Supported browsers include modern versions of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer (v9.0 and up), Edge, and assorted mobile browsers.

Warning: beeps loudly upon booting. [via r/internetisbeautiful]

Previously: Windows 93.