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28 Feb 15:55

Thanks For the Net Neutrality, Oligarchs

by Alex Pareene

Thanks For the Net Neutrality, Oligarchs

"Net neutrality" will be the law of the land following the Federal Communications Commission's vote to reclassify broadband Internet services as public utilities. Please take some time this week to thank the outspoken citizens who made this possible. These heroes of the open Internet are regular folk, just like you and me, with names like Microsoft, eBay, Facebook, Google and Amazon. Congrats to a major industry on its lobbying victory!

Because telecom and cable companies vociferously oppose regulation of their terrible, anti-consumer practices, it's easy to paint the net neutrality fight as pitting greedy and self-interested corporations against earnest and sincere activists. But that's reductive and wrong. The biggest hint that that isn't the correct lens through which to view this fight is that the earnest and sincere activists won the fight, and the corporations lost. That isn't just a Washington rarity, it is a Washington impossibility. No, net neutrality won (pending future court battles) because the earnest and sincere activists represented a different group of greedy and self-interested corporations.

The FCC received a record four million public comments on their net neutrality proposal. The overwhelming majority of those comments supported the basic tenets of net neutrality. The New York Times quotes one excited activist: "This shows that the Internet has changed the rules of what can be accomplished in Washington." It has, though not quite in the way he means. The net neutrality fight shows that the Internet industry can consider its political influence to be on par with that of older, more established industries. Those public comments would have meant nothing at all if they hadn't represented a policy priority also shared by Google, one of the largest and most influential corporations in the world. And even Google wouldn't have beaten Verizon and Comcast alone—it lost the last time it had this fight, in 2010. Google had to make like a real global megacorporation and form an alliance with its ostensible competitors in its own field in order to present a unified front to official Washington — just as energy, healthcare, finance and telecommunications companies have been doing for decades. The corporate Internet grew up, formed a cartel, and won a major policy battle.

Don't get me wrong. Regulating broadband as a utility is (in my opinion) the correct policy. This is as close as Washington gets to a victory for the forces of "good." I would just urge everyone to keep in mind that the forces of good in this instance won not because millions of people made their voices heard, but because the economic interests of a few giant corporations aligned with the position of those millions of people. And I say that not simply to be a killjoy (though I do love being a killjoy), but because if anything is to change, we musn't convince ourselves that actual victory for the masses is possible in this fundamentally broken system. Please don't begin to believe that the American political establishment is anything but a corrupt puppet of oligarchy.

American politicians are responsive almost solely to the interests and desires of their rich constituents and interest groups that primarily represent big business. Casual observation of American politics over the last quarter-century or so should make that clear, but if you want supporting evidence, look to the research of Vanderbilt political scientist Larry Bartels, and Princeton's Martin Gilens and Northwestern's Benjamin Page. Gilen and Page's conclusions are easily summed up: "economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence."

Political battles are won when the rich favor them. America's rich have lately become rather progressive on certain social issues, and those issues have rather suddenly gone from political impossibilities to achievable dreams. This is why same-sex marriage is an inevitability and marijuana decriminalization seems more likely than ever, but we can't dismantle megabanks or raise the estate tax. This is why healthcare reform couldn't happen without the buy-in (and buying off) of the bloated, awful healthcare industry and the doctor cartel. (And speaking of the doctor cartel: One of the few major political issues where the ultra-rich seem to have trouble getting their way is immigration reform, but there are plenty of wealthy professionals who rely on protectionism to keep their incomes elevated.) This dynamic explains the entire "education reform" project, which is an attempt to dismantle and re-create the American public school system, dreamed up (and almost solely supported) by the wealthy elite, most of whom have no education expertise or experience in urban public schools.

We have net neutrality for the same reason that copyright terms will be extended indefinitely forever and the Defense Department will keep being forced to buy incredibly expensive planes that don't actually work: Because a large industry had a strong opinion on the subject.

Photo: Google's Eric Schmidt enjoys a beverage at the 2010 World Economic Forum in Davos.
Credit: AP Images

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25 Feb 12:45

Powerful “stingrays” used to go after 911 hangup, ATM burglary

by Cyrus Farivar

Because Terrorism and homegrown threats, and stuff.


Newly released records show that Florida law enforcement agencies have been using stingrays thousands of times since at least 2007 to investigate crimes as small as a 911 hangup. They also seemingly obliquely refer to stingrays in police reports as “electronic surveillance measures,” or even as a “confidential informant.”

Stingrays, the common name for “cell-site simulators,” can be used to determine a phone’s location, but they can also intercept calls and text messages. During the act of locating a phone, stingrays also sweep up information about nearby phones—not just the target phone. Earlier this month, Ars reported on how the FBI is actively trying to “prevent disclosure” of how these devices are used in local jurisdictions across America.

The trove of documents, which were published earlier this week by the American Civil Liberties Union, show that while police agencies often justify the purchase of such hardware in the name of counter-terrorism—none of the hundreds of disclosed uses involves terrorism.

Read 28 remaining paragraphs | Comments

27 Feb 20:00

Google caves to porn lovers, rescinds Blogger ban on adult content

by David Kravets

I find this hilarious.

In an about-face due to widespread pressure from the blogosphere, Google said Friday that it is rescinding its move to bar sexually explicit content on its free blogging platform, Blogger.

Google announced Tuesday that starting March 23, bloggers using its platform would no longer be permitted to "publicly share images and video that are sexually explicit or show graphic nudity on Blogger."

But a "ton of feedback" prompted Google to alter course.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

27 Feb 20:00

When a Bomb Is About to Go Off In a Movie

by Brad

DBZ is perhaps the epitomal example. Seriously, after Freiza tells Goku that the planet will explode in 5 minutes, it takes like, 15 episodes.

27 Feb 22:43

In Memoriam of Leonard Nimoy

by Brad

In honor of Leonard Nimoy, the actor behind the beloved Star Trek character Spock who passed away today at the age of 83, revisit the ever-moving scene of Spock’s funeral from the 1982 feature-length film Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.

27 Feb 07:58

ACT NOW! Congress wants to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership

by Cory Doctorow

Congress is about to introduce a bill that will let the US Trade Representative lock America into the provisions of the secretly negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership, without substantial debate or scrutiny -- including criminal sanctions -- jail! -- for downloading TV shows.

EFF wants you to tweet key lawmakers and sign up to a petition to get Congress to fully debate TPP before considering it. The stunning victory in the Net Neutrality fight shows that your voices matter, and now's the time to press for victory on top of victory!

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks are stalling while the White House assures its trading partners that this secret trade agreement won't be amended when it comes back to Congress for ratification after the President signs the deal. That's why the Executive is scrambling to get its allies in Congress to pass Fast Track. If they succeed, the U.S. Trade Representative can block remaining opportunities for the examination of the TPP's provisions by lawmakers who could ensure that this secret deal does not contain expansive copyright rules that would lock the U.S. into broken copyright rules that are already in bad need of reform.

The Fast Track bill is likely going to be introduced as early as next week—so it's time to speak out now. Congress needs to hear from their constituents that we expect them to hold the White House accountable for the TPP's restrictive digital policies. Unless this opaque, undemocratic process is fixed, and state officials uphold the interests of users rather than trampling our rights, we have no choice but to fight trade deals like the TPP.

You can get in touch with your elected representatives and call on them to oppose Fast Track trade authority for the TPP and other secretive, anti-user trade deals. We have also created a new tool for Twitter users to ask three key congressional leaders to come out against Fast Track. They are Sen. Ron Wyden, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and Rep. Steny Hoyer. Here's why we are targeting these three Congress members in particular.

Congress Is Poised to Introduce a Bill to Fast Track TPP so It's Time to Act Now [Maira Sutton/EFF]

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28 Feb 00:47

Goodbye, Spock.

by Xeni Jardin

Holy shit, I didn't realize how many of the original cast had died. Basically, we are currently left with Kirk, Uhura, Sulu, Chekov, and Lieutenant Leslie.


Leonard Nimoy, 1931-2015.

[HT: @hbeschizza]

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27 Feb 17:00



Via Cooper Griggs

27 Feb 09:30

These Swords Will Mess You Up

by Brian Ashcraft

These Swords Will Mess You Up

The martial art Kalaripayattu is elegant and beautiful. Those flexible swords the two men are wielding? Goodness, they're scary.

In the below video, via Boing Boing, you can see whiplike swords called urumi in action. The weapons, apparently, are difficult to master as they can accidentally cause serious injury.

I can't imagine how difficult—or dangerous—it is to do a performance like this without unintentionally hurting your partner. And I don't want to imagine what would happen if you did.

To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter @Brian_Ashcraft.

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

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27 Feb 17:14

Leonard Nimoy Dies At 83

by Jason Schreier

Leonard Nimoy Dies At 83

Leonard Nimoy, the actor best known for playing Mr. Spock in the ubiquitous sci-fi series Star Trek, passed away today at the age of 83.

The New York Times has a full obituary for Nimoy, who was taken to the hospital earlier this week after suffering chest pains, and died this morning from end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Nimoy, who first starred as the half-Vulcan Spock in the original Star Trek series from 1966 to 1969, went on to appear in various shows, films, and video games both in the world of Star Trek and elsewhere. He starred as himself in the 2000 Dreamcast game Seaman and did voicework for two Kingdom Hearts games as well as the strategy game Civilization IV. One of his most memorable performances came in a classic episode of The Simpsons, "The Springfield Files," in which he narrates.

Leonard Nimoy Dies At 83

Nimoy's last tweet is pretty perfect:

A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP

— Leonard Nimoy (@TheRealNimoy) February 23, 2015

You can reach the author of this post at or on Twitter at @jasonschreier.

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26 Feb 18:05

Poll: 54% of Republicans believe, “deep down,” Obama is a Muslim

by Mark Frauenfelder

Obama is a politician, which means he pays lip service to some sect of christianity, and will believe anything if you pay him enough.

Alex Theodoridis of the University of California at Merced asked Republicans, Democrats, and Independents "Which of these do you think most likely describes what Obama believes deep down?"

They could choose from: Christian, atheist, Muslim, spiritual, or I don't know." Over half of Republicans answered "Muslim."

I wonder how much overlap there is between the 54% who believe Obama is a Muslim and the 11% who either believe or are unsure that the country is being run by shape-shifting lizard people?

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25 Feb 23:36

Riker? I Hardly Know Her

by jon


Welcome back to Star Trek Week(s) here at SFAM! I’m going to try and do one comic for each of the five live-action Star Trek TV series. Tuesday’s TOS comic sure did cause some hubbub!

Have you guys seen the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode The Outcast?

Me neither.

Come on back Friday for more trekky goodness!


25 Feb 22:37

Go Go Gadget Netflix! TV toons arrive on video service

by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

New seasons of Inspector Gadget and Danger Mouse are in production and will run on video service Netflix, reports Variety. They're also developing a show based on Playmobile toys, The Magic School Bus and Some Assembly Required—I knew I was holding onto my childlike immaturity for a reason.

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05 Feb 22:18

MeFi: Everything you wanted to know about Middle Earth but were afraid to ask

by annekate


24 Feb 07:53

Yahoo's security boss faces down NSA director over crypto ban

by Cory Doctorow

During Monday's Cybersecurity for a New America conference in DC, Yahoo's Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos stood up and had an intense verbal showdown with NSA director Mike Rogers about the NSA's plan to ban working crypto, in which the nation's top spook fumfuhed and fumbled to explain how this idea isn't totally insane.

Alex Stamos (AS): “Thank you, Admiral. My name is Alex Stamos, I’m the CISO for Yahoo!. … So it sounds like you agree with Director Comey that we should be building defects into the encryption in our products so that the US government can decrypt…

Mike Rogers (MR): That would be your characterization. [laughing]

AS: No, I think Bruce Schneier and Ed Felton and all of the best public cryptographers in the world would agree that you can’t really build backdoors in crypto. That it’s like drilling a hole in the windshield.

MR: I’ve got a lot of world-class cryptographers at the National Security Agency.

AS: I’ve talked to some of those folks and some of them agree too, but…

MR: Oh, we agree that we don’t accept each other's premise. [laughing]

AS: We’ll agree to disagree on that. So, if we’re going to build defects/backdoors or golden master keys for the US government, do you believe we should do so — we have about 1.3 billion users around the world — should we do for the Chinese government, the Russian government, the Saudi Arabian government, the Israeli government, the French government? Which of those countries should we give backdoors to?

MR: So, I’m not gonna… I mean, the way you framed the question isn’t designed to elicit a response.

AS: Well, do you believe we should build backdoors for other countries?

MR: My position is — hey look, I think that we’re lying that this isn’t technically feasible. Now, it needs to be done within a framework. I’m the first to acknowledge that. You don’t want the FBI and you don’t want the NSA unilaterally deciding, so, what are we going to access and what are we not going to access? That shouldn’t be for us. I just believe that this is achievable. We’ll have to work our way through it. And I’m the first to acknowledge there are international implications. I think we can work our way through this.

AS: So you do believe then, that we should build those for other countries if they pass laws?

MR: I think we can work our way through this.

AS: I’m sure the Chinese and Russians are going to have the same opinion.

MR: I said I think we can work through this.

AS: Okay, nice to meet you. Thanks.

Yahoo exec goes mano a mano with NSA director over crypto backdoors [Dan Goodin/Ars Technica]

(Image: Gunfight, micadew, CC-BY-SA)

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24 Jan 02:29

GOP senator who boasted about her family's self-reliance received $460K in federal subsidies

by Cory Doctorow

Iowa Republican senator Joni Ernst gave her party's official response to the State of the Union address by boasting self-righteously about her humble origins and how her self-reliant, heartland-state family pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps, but conveniently failed to mention that her family's farm was the beneficiary of nearly half a million dollars in federal subsidies.

Senator Ernst's speech stressed how her family had "lived within its means" and she campaigned on a promise to "cut the pork" out of government.

The truth about her family’s farm roots and living within one’s means, however, is more complex. Relatives of Ernst (née: Culver), based in Red Oak, Iowa (population: 5,568) have received over $460,000 in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2009. Ernst’s father, Richard Culver, was given $14,705 in conservation payments and $23,690 in commodity subsidies by the federal government–with all but twelve dollars allocated for corn support. Richard’s brother, Dallas Culver, benefited from $367,141 in federal agricultural aid, with over $250,000 geared toward corn subsidies. And the brothers’ late grandfather Harold Culver received $57,479 from Washington—again, mostly corn subsidies—between 1995 and 2001. He passed away in January 2003.

The Sentinel cross-referenced the Environmental Working Group farm subsidy database with open source information to verify the Culvers’ interest in the Department of Agriculture’s crop support program.

Sen. Ernst’s family’s financial interest notably came up once during her campaign. In October, Salon reported that Richard’s construction company was awarded $215,665 in contracts from the Montgomery County government in 2009 and 2010, while Ernst was the body’s auditor. The bids won by Culver included Federal Emergency Management Agency projects worth $204,794.

Despite Campaigning on Pork-cutting Family Living “Within Our Means,” Sen. Ernst’s Kin Took Over $460,000 in Farm Subsidies [Sam Knight/District Sentinel]

(via Reddit)

Recommended article: Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.
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24 Feb 03:11

Congressman asks if women could swallow cameras for gynecological exams before abortion

by Xeni Jardin
Christ, what an asshole. Idaho Republican Rep. Vito Barbieri. Courtesy Idaho State Legislature website.

Christ, what an asshole. Idaho Republican Rep. Vito Barbieri. Courtesy Idaho State Legislature website.

A complete idiot who managed to get elected to The Idaho House of Representatives received a female reproductive anatomy lesson today.

Republican state Rep. Vito Barbieri asked if it were possible for a woman to swallow a small camera so that doctors could conduct a gynecological exam remotely, using telemedicine, before performing an abortion.


He asked this utterly stupid question Monday, revealing his total ignorance of basic grade school human biology, while the House State Affairs Committee listened to some three hours of testimony on a bill that would prohibit doctors from prescribing abortion-inducing meds using telemedicine.

The lawmaker later said that the question was rhetorical, and he was just trying to make a point. In other words, he was trolling.

I don't buy it. Trolling takes more intelligence than this knuckledragger possesses.

From the Associated Press report:

Dr. Julie Madsen, a physician who said she has provided various telemedicine services in Idaho, was testifying in opposition to the bill. She said some colonoscopy patients may swallow a small device to give doctors a closer look at parts of their colon.

"Can this same procedure then be done in a pregnancy? Swallowing a camera and helping the doctor determine what the situation is?" Barbieri asked.

Madsen replied that would be impossible because swallowed pills do not end up in the vagina.

"Fascinating. That makes sense," Barbieri said, amid the crowd's laughter.

The committee approved the bill (banning doctors from remotely prescribing abortion-inducing medication) 13-4 on a party-line vote.

The bill now goes to the House floor for a full vote.

Barbieri sits on the board of a crisis pregnancy center in northern Idaho, and voted in favor of the legislation, because he is an ignorant dipshit. We should just put him in charge of All Of The Things.

Perhaps you would like to make a donation to Planned Parenthood, to fight this sort of thing and help prevent women from dying because they can't access safe and legal abortions.

[HT: Susie Bright]

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23 Feb 22:05

Cannabis 114 times less deadly than alcohol

by Mark Frauenfelder

Research published in the journal Scientific Reports finds that alcohol is the deadliest recreational drug, followed by heroin, cocaine, and tobacco. Cannabis, at the bottom of the list, is 114 times less deadly than alcohol. Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post writes:

[I]ndividuals and organizations up in arms over marijuana legalization could have a greater effect on the health and well-being of this country by shifting their attention to alcohol and cigarettes. It takes extraordinary chutzpah to rail against the dangers of marijuana use by day and then go home to unwind with a glass of far more lethal stuff in the evening.

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23 Feb 22:20

Why Riot Is Pissed Off At A League of Legends Streamer

by Nathan Grayson

Why Riot Is Pissed Off At A League of Legends Streamer

If you're a popular League of Legends eSports player, who actually owns streams of your matches? That's a complicated question, but in the case of ultra-popular pro Sanghyuk "Faker" Lee, the answer seems clear cut. Another streamer, however, found a loophole that's thrown it all into question. And controversy.

Twitch streamer StarLordLucian runs a channel that automatically streams all of Faker's solo-queue matches. Competitive LoL matches run on Twitch all the time, but Faker's shouldn't be. The SK Telecom T1 player has a deal with streaming platform Azubu that grants them exclusive rights to his matches.

So naturally, Azubu lobbed a DMCA takedown notice at Lucian's stream and figured that was that. But it wasn't.

Thing is, StarLordLucian isn't swiping footage from Azubu's streams. Instead, he's watching Faker's matches in League of Legends' as a spectator using a third-party client—that Riot supports—called OP.GG and passing that along to his stream.

Now, here's the bit that's probably of interest to you even if you're not a LoL pro with major companies playing tug-of-war for your table scraps: LoL creator Riot—not a third-party company, not you—owns all of your shit. Their game, their in-game assets, their rules. As PCGamesN points out in their post on the matter, Riot's terms of service read:

"You acknowledge and agree that you shall have no ownership or other property interest in your account, and you further acknowledge and agree that, other than your limited access to use the account, all rights in and to the account are and shall forever be owned by and inure to the benefit of Riot Games. You acknowledge and agree that you have no claim, right, title, ownership or other proprietary interest in the game assets."

Lucian is running his stream with that information in mind. He explained: "Right now nothing my stream does is illegal or against the League of Legends terms of service. Riot can always change their terms. And Riot can DMCA my stream at anytime, as they have the power to put any League related IP or Project to an end."

OK then, what does Riot think about all of this? Well, the stream is still up, but Riot president Marc Merrill isn't pleased. Not one bit. He posted a response to Lucian's actions on Reddit:

"You are rationalizing and trying to justify the fact that you have singled out a player against their will and broadcasting their games in a way that he can do nothing about. That reeks of harassment and bullying - Azubu vs Twitch is irrelevant in my view."

"If you can't see how this potentially harms Faker and/or anyone else in this situation, then that is more reinforcement that we need to take the appropriate action to protect players from this type of unique situation."

"As to the comments about our API, of course we want 3rd party devs to do cool things with spectator. But when people utilize one of its components to harm / harass an individual, then we need to potentially re-evaluate our rules."

It's a bit of a curious response given that a) I'm not sure how an auto-stream of solo matches constitutes bullying and b) Azubu and Twitch are obviously interested parties when it comes to big streamer business; they are very relevant here. Still, this situation might lead Riot to make confetti out of their current rule book and come up with something that guards against similar situations in the future. Services like OP.GG might have to change too. As for how, well, that's up in the air right now.

Lucian, however, argues that Faker himself has yet to express that he's in any way upset with the stream. Until Faker/SK Telecom take aim directly at the stream or Riot issues a DMCA notice of their own, Lucian said, the show will go on. "'Harassment and bullying'? Yeah no. I am a big Faker fan. If Faker himself personally ever requested my stream to be shut down, I would oblige instantly."

UPDATE: Faker's team, SK Telecom, has issued a statement requesting that Lucian's stream be taken down. Lucian, however, plans to keep it going despite this. He explained his sudden about-face in one "last" post on the matter:

"I know some people will disagree with this and bring up ethics, but I think this whole issue is about a lot more than Faker. It's about Riot not enforcing their own legal terms of service. It's about a co-owner of Riot Games being completely out of touch with esports and the spectator mode. It's about a company (Azubu) issuing a false DMCA claim for content they didn't even own. These are issues that will affect the future of the game and the spectator mode. All of this needs to be debated for the future of League of Legends and esports."

As of now, the stream is still up. As Lucian pointed out, Riot can have it taken down at any time—and they might just do so soon. So far, though, they've yet to change their current rules, let alone enforce the old ones. I've sent a mail to Riot to find out what their next step is in this situation. I'll update this post as soon as I hear back.

To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter @vahn16.

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23 Feb 08:01

Comic: Convenience Itself

by (Tycho)
New Comic: Convenience Itself
17 Feb 18:00

I'm Glad I Waited Fifteen Years To Play Majora's Mask

by Jason Schreier

Majora may be one of the very few Zeldas, let alone among the very few games, which I would recommend that you play with a player's guide. It goes against every instinct I have, but there are so many side quests, and planning your 3 day cycles is so important, that I believe for this one game, it's indispensable.

I'm Glad I Waited Fifteen Years To Play Majora's Mask

I first played The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask in a small, dark hotel room that offered rentals on all of the hottest N64 games, Expansion Pak and all. I don't remember where we were or even how old I was, but I do recall convincing my parents to let us rent Majora's Mask for 24 hours.

This was probably a bad idea. See, I was the type of kid who liked playing games slowly. I grew up with big, sprawling RPGs like Final Fantasy VI and Secret of Mana and Lufia II—games where you didn't really have to rush to save the world. My idea of a good time was walking around a new town and finding all the nooks and crannies, not rushing through quests to save the world as quickly as possible. So between the 24-hour hotel time limit and what I would soon discover was a ticking in-game clock that never stopped, Majora's Mask stressed me the fuck out. I gave up after a few minutes.

Some fifteen years later, I'm glad I gave it another shot, and I'm kinda glad I waited. Twenty-seven-year-old Jason appreciates this game far more than 12-year-old Jason would have. Majora's Mask has aged beautifully—although, granted, the 3DS tweaks and overhauls sure help—and over the past few weeks, I've grown to really appreciate why so many people are so quick to lavish it with praise, to the point where some say it's even better than that most sacred of sacred cows, Ocarina of Time.

In fact, I think I agree. Ocarina of Time might be the perfect hero's journey, but Majora's Mask is just so unsettling and melancholy and stressful and different. It's unlike any other Zelda game—really, it's unlike any other game in how it purports to have a time limit but instead uses time as a dimension for you to explore. When you play Majora's Mask, you don't just have to think about where or how far you're going, you have to think about when you'll be there and how long it'll take. Forget 3D—they should've called it Majora's Mask 4D.

But I'm sure you've already read plenty about why this game is so good. What I'm here to tell you is that if, like me, you skipped Majora's Mask because the timer freaked you out, you should know that it is not an impediment and in fact it's the very reason this game is so stellar. I wish other Zelda games would play with time in this way, weaving sidequests and character arcs through one large temporal yarn. The constant presence of a ticking clock turned me off as a kid, but as an adult with way more experience and way better taste, I'm really glad it's there. It's still stressful, but in a good way.

Consider this: I, a huge Zelda fan, have finished every game in the series (with the exception of the first two on NES, which I've played extensively but not beaten, and of course the CD-I games because who counts those?) except for Majora's Mask, which I started for the first time in mid-January. Now, inexplicably, it's become one of my favorite Zeldas. Who would've thought?

You can reach the author of this post at or on Twitter at @jasonschreier.

Recommended article: Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.
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23 Feb 05:17

President Terminator Skeleton

by jon


President Terminator Skeleton wants the best for your planet! He is brave and shiny.

I did FIVE bonus comics last week! Go read ‘em here.


16 Feb 21:00

Canada Is a Magical Place


But I don't see anything about hockey or government kowtowing to foreign corporate concerns.


Submitted by: Unknown

Tagged: Canada , beaver , goose , moose , funny
20 Feb 05:00

Fundamental Forces

"Of these four forces, there's one we don't really understand." "Is it the weak force or the strong--" "It's gravity."
19 Feb 16:14

What You Tell Your Samsung Smart TV Isn’t Encrypted When It’s Uploaded

by Laura Northrup

Last week, the world collectively freaked out when we learned that Samsung’s smart TVs can take things that we say in our living rooms and uploads them to a third-party transcription service. The gadget-maker tried to calm us all down by explaining how the service works, but there’s a problem: people may have assumed that data is encrypted. It’s not.

In their blog post explaining how transcription works, Samsung assured the public that the company “takes consumer privacy very seriously,” and that they use “industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption, to secure consumers’ personal information and prevent unauthorized collection or use.” Many people understood this to mean that the voice data and transcribed text sent to and from smart TVs is always encrypted, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Perhaps “we encrypt consumer data” is true, but doesn’t include smart TVs.

We know this because a security researcher in the U.K. spent some time yelling at a Samsung smart television while monitoring the traffic going back and forth from the remote transcription service. David Lodge of Pen Test Partners wanted to check, since the statement from Samsung implied that customer data is encrypted. Here is what he saw being sent to Nuance, that third-party service:


That’s most likely audio data, but the important thing is that information about the device’s MAC address and operating system isn’t concealed in any way. The service sends back what it thinks the speaker said in plain text.

What danger does this pose? As things stand right now, none. The TV only listens when you tell it to, either by saying “Hi TV” or some other preset phrase, or by pressing a button on the remote control. The problem is that it could become a problem if what Lodge calls “rogue firmware” infected the TV, perhaps listening in to your conversations all the time or sending your data somewhere nefarious.


19 Feb 15:50

Standard Primer

by Jacob Van Lunen

I won't blame most of you for skipping this, but the Red deck in this article is the same 63 cards out of 75 that I played with last Saturday. I'm torn between that, and a list similar to the "Abzan Aggro" list in this article to play this Saturday in a similar tourney.

If anyone has recent metagame advice, I'm happy to listen.

Welcome back to Perilous Research,'s exclusive Magic Online column. Standard has been in a state of constant change since the release of Fate Reforged. With each passing week, there seems to be a new format favorite. As the dust settles, it seems there are more competitive strategies popping up at a faster rate than archetypes are dying. In fact, this is shaping up to be one of the most, if not the most, diverse Standard environments in history. Today, we'll be taking a look at the most successful Standard strategies from the last week on Magic Online.

Valorous Stance | Art by Willian Murai­

The Rise of Red-White

Standard has reacted to the overwhelming amount of Valorous Stance we were seeing last week. Initially, Valorous Stance felt like it was a split card where one half was Terminate and the other half was Negate. Now, the threats we're seeing are a lot less heavy on the backend. Goblin Rabblemaster and Monastery Mentor are being favored over Brimaz, King of Oreskos, and Ashcloud Phoenix is being favored over Polukranos, World Eater. Valorous Stance pushed a lot of people onto the red-white decks, and the incredible power of those strategies has a lot of people proclaiming red-white to be the next big thing. Let's check out a decklist!

Crywolf102190's Red-White (4–0)

Sort by: Overview Color Cost Rarity

Red-white decks have become Standard's new tier 1. The deck has access to all of the strongest angles of the Jeskai decks, but by cutting blue the deck gains access to Chained to the Rocks, which is probably the best spot-removal spell in the current Standard. The numbers in red-white are very malleable, and it's rare for two players to end up on identical lists. It's not uncommon to see Brimaz, King of Oreskos, four copies of Valorous Stance, or more aggressive creature setups. When playing against red-white, it's important that a player recognizes his or her role in a given game; the deck can easily win an aggressive game when the opponent gets too brazen, and it's well-suited to a longer game if opponents aren't applying pressure. The best advice I've heard for playing the matchup is to simply imagine we're playing a game of Limited where the opponent has a ton of removal spells. This should be the most important archetype to beat for players looking to test and practice the current Standard.

Rethinking Jeskai Strategies

Last week, Jeskai strategies seemed to be competing for the title of tier 1, but they've quickly fallen out of favor as players recognize the strength of the red-white strategies. There's little to no cost for dropping blue out of the deck at this point, and the added consistency and access to Chained to the Rocks have pushed Jeskai out of the picture.

What other strategies have continued to perform well in the face of so much red-white? Let's check out some of the other decks to put up undefeated records in daily events over the last few days.

DerrickJones's White-Blue Heroic (4–0)

Sort by: Overview Color Cost Rarity
19 Feb 14:40

Fan Turns Half-Life 2's Headcrab Into A Gun-Wielding Criminal

by Gergo Vas

Fan Turns Half-Life 2's Headcrab Into A Gun-Wielding Criminal

Here's a short but intense Half-Life 2 fan-clip by animator Nathan Hibberd. His version of the game's annoying little enemy steals airboats, uses machine guns and acts like a crazy cartoon character.

It even scares itself when suddenly realises that it doesn't know how to drive.

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20 Feb 01:24

Fan-Made League of Legends Trailer Is So 90s

by Patricia Hernandez

It's just not believable without someone lugging their desktop computer, a CRT monitor and all their peripherals to someone else's house.

Had League of Legends been released in the 90s, it might have been released on a floppy disk. Okay, make that a ton of floppy disks.

Here's a funny take on what a League of Legends commercial from the 90's might have looked like. In a word: cheesy. Very cheesy. But that's exactly what makes this rizenvisual trailer so great.

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19 Feb 14:06

Lenovo pre-installed malware on laptops

by Rob Beschizza
PC maker Lenovo reportedly sold laptops preinstalled with Superfish, a hidden malware package that injects advertising into browser sessions: "it can basically intercept everything and it could be really misused."

Recommended article: Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.
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18 Feb 05:00

February 18, 2015


The problem, as I understand it, is that in order to begin generating infinite dogs, you basically have to have infinite dogs. Infinity is weird.

In which Rob DenBleyker changes the fields of evolution and cookie expansion.