Monthly Archives: December 2018

The oral history of the Hampsterdance: The twisted true story of one of the world’s first memes

What started 20 years ago in Nanaimo, B.C. spawned hit songs, worldwide LOLs and a giant hairball of drama

Leah Collins · CBC Arts · December 27

the-oral-history-of-the-hampsterdance

 

It’s a chapter of pop-culture history that could only have started in 1998, a time when more people than ever before were making sense of the internet for the first time. And that includes the folks you’re about to hear from. (Leah Collins/CBC Arts)
What, exactly, is the Hampsterdance? If you were online around the turn of the millennium, you probably think you know the answer to this question. I did, anyway. And the first, seemingly obvious definition is that it’s a website. It’s the kind of website you probably haven’t seen in a decade, at least — lost to the pixels of time along with stuff like Zombo.com and the emo rants you used to publish on LiveJournal. But it’s a website, just the same. One page with one purpose: deliver 392 animated GIFs of dancing rodents and the most infuriating .wav file ever uploaded — a sound that, way back when, threatened to blast out of your speakers every time you checked your email.

It’s weird to think about now — weirder than a website devoted to hundreds of cartoon rodents. But 20 years ago, the Hampsterdance was revolutionary, an example of “going viral” before anyone was even using the phrase. Want to make someone LOL? Send them the Hampsterdance. Want to prank your boss? Teacher? Roommate? Get everyone to load the page at the same time. It infiltrated the culture, both online and off, even popping up in a TV ad for Earthlink. And it made its conquest before iPhones, before social media — spreading through email and old-timey word of mouth.

The original Hamsterdance site. (YouTube)
When you consider all that, it’s fair to call it the world’s first online meme — or one of the first, depending on your source. And that’s the beginning of where things get tricky, because getting a handle on what a meme actually means can be strange business. It’s a thing — an image, a video, a concept, a website, some cultural object — that spreads wildly, mutating and evolving as it’s passed along.  So when it comes to memes, we’re all authors, and we’re all the audience. Keep that in mind. It’s what makes this whole “Hampsterdance” question difficult. What is it — who made it — if we’ve all had a paw in there somewhere?

via The oral history of the Hampsterdance: The twisted true story of one of the world’s first memes | CBC Arts

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What Is Shadowbanning and Could It Happen to You?

In the past few years, social media platforms have experienced tremendous growth. Social networks are more than happy to welcome new users. However, more users mean it’s harder to keep track of everyone’s behavior on the site.

When it comes to social media, if you don’t play by the rules, you don’t get to use the platform. This is made pretty clear to all users. However, there has been one practice that has been shrouded in mystery for years, so much so that users are confused as to if it actually exists or not.

We are, of course, talking about shadowbanning. So, what is shadowbanning? And what can you do to prevent a social media platform from shadowbanning you?

What Is Shadowbanning?
Social media platforms can ban users in a few different ways. Either you lose access to your account for a short period of time, or indefinitely. They can also ban you from making a new account if the offense was serious enough for an IP ban, which is when the platform shuts you out based on your IP address.

These bans have one thing in common, and that is that the users know that they have been banned. This is precisely what sets shadowbanning apart. Shadowbanning, also known as ghost banning, or stealth banning, is commonly defined as the practice of blocking a user or their content, fully or partially, in a way that it will not be obvious to the user.

This way, the user retains access to their account and can see posts from other users. They can even post as usual, but the social network partially or completely “shadows” the posts, making them invisible to other users. Shadowbanning is different from Facebook’s shadow profiles, which have also been in the news lately.

The practice dates back to the 1980s when the bulletin board services started employing toggles to grant different users different privileges. One of these toggles was called the “twit bit,” which restricted a user’s privileges for not following the rules. This was to ensure that the troublemakers either left or started following the rules.

This is pretty much the concept behind the modern day phenomenon of shadowbanning. However, the mystery is whether the practice actually really exists in a tangible form.

Are People Really Getting Shadowbanned?
In the last few years, there have been numerous claims of shadowbanning across different social media platforms. With the politically charged environment making it harder than ever to distinguish genuine news from fake news, social media platforms have been accused of having a bias. And using shadowbanning to silent the opinions they dislike.

Shadowbanning on Twitter
A large number of users have claimed that Twitter has shadowbanned them. The claims began in 2016, with accusations that Twitter was shadowbanning people that supported the Republican Party in the U.S.

However, the situation escalated in 2018, after Vice News claimed that Twitter was shadowbanning prominent Republican politicians, which was soon followed by a tweet from the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump.

Twitter was quick to respond, and while Vice News said that Twitter had “fixed” the shadowbans, Twitter claimed in a blog post that they have never actually used the practice. The blog post said that Twitter instead used ranking, which ranked tweets from “bad-faith actors”.

Apparently, Twitter determines these according to several factors which have to do with the authenticity of the account, and how the one uses the account.

Twitter also claimed that political affiliation wasn’t one of these factors and that there was no shadowbanning happening, but rather just a bug which affected hundreds of thousands of accounts, not letting them appear in search auto-suggestions. Twitter resolved this issue, but the accusations continue.

via What Is Shadowbanning and Could It Happen to You?

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A 5-Foot Tapeworm Grew Inside a Man Because He Ate Too Much Raw Salmon

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Lovers of raw fish, be warned: The grossest medical malady of 2018 involved a toilet, a tapeworm, and a whole lot of salmon sushi. This story unfolded in January, when the medical podcast This Won’t Hurt a Bit featured a University of California San Francisco doctor with a stomach-churning story to tell. It all started when a patient came into the hospital with a empty toilet paper roll.

Upon closer inspection, the professor of clinical emergency medicine, Dr. Kenny Banh, realized that there was a five-foot-long tapeworm wrapped around the cardboard cylinder. The patient had pulled it out of his rectum. WARNING: There’s an extremely vile photo below.

This is #6 on Inverse’s list of the 25 Most WTF stories of 2018.

The tapeworm was brought in on a roll of toilet paper.
As Inverse reported previously, the man was using the bathroom when he noticed the tapeworm wiggling out. He methodically wrapped all five feet of the creature around an empty toilet paper roll and brought it to the hospital, where Banh identified it as a tapeworm. Pressed for details about what might have caused the infection, the patient could think of only one thing.

The one thing I like, that I love, I love sushi, specifically salmon sashimi, and I eat it every day.
“He says, ‘The one thing I like, that I love, I love sushi, specifically salmon sashimi, and I eat it every day,” Banh recounted.

Banh thinks the man might have caught the infection from an infected, uncooked fish, after which the tapeworm gestated for at least six months, growing to that size.

Raw salmon is delicious, but make sure it’s been frozen for an appropriate amount of time before eating it.
Five feet is far from the maximum length a tapeworm can reach. The CDC reports that Japanese broad tapeworms (Diphyllobothrium nihokaiense), which have been shown to infect North American salmon, are the largest tapeworms that can infect people and can grow up to 30 feet long.

Infection can be pretty rough: They include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and the possibility that you might pull an enormous tapeworm out of your rectum.

via A 5-Foot Tapeworm Grew Inside a Man Because He Ate Too Much Raw Salmon | Inverse

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Wellness Guru Calls Looking Directly at the Sun a “Form of Free Medicine”

 

Australian celebrity chef and Instagram wellness guru Pete Evans has come under fire for saying that “sungazing”, the act of looking directly at the sun, is a one of the best forms of free medicine.

“Every day I love to immerse myself in an experience within the cleansing ocean water as well as a brief gaze into the radiant light of the early rising or late setting sun,” Evans posted on Instagram. “These simple, yet powerful practices have got to be two of the best forms of free medicine on the planet for body, mind and spirit.”

Photo: geralt/Pixabay

Evans, who often shares wellness tips with his nearly 200,000 Instagram followers, is a big supporter of the Paleo diet, and has been criticized for going against doctors’ advice in the past. He once suggested feeding infants a Paleo diet, advises against using sunscreen, calling it “poisonous”, and claims fluoridated water is the cause of all of society’s problems.

While some have defended the Australian influencer, claiming that he only advocates for a “brief gaze” at the sun, at sunrise or sunset, doctors say that looking directly at the sun even for a few seconds is enough to cause irreparable damage to the eye, so follow his advice at your own risk.

via Wellness Guru Calls Looking Directly at the Sun a “Form of Free Medicine”

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Egyptian woman is imprisoned for three years for ‘sexually harassing’ a monkey

Basma Ahmed was charged with 'inciting debauchery' and 'committing an obscene act in publicAn Egyptian court has sentenced a 25-year-old woman to three years in prison for ‘sexually harassing’ a monkey in the country’s north, state daily Al-Ahram reported Friday.

A court in Mansoura city charged Basma Ahmed with ‘inciting debauchery’ and ‘committing an obscene act in public’, a judicial source told the newspaper.

She was arrested in October after a 90-second video of the incident went viral, particularly among young people and students, Al-Ahram said.

Basma Ahmed was charged with ‘inciting debauchery’ and ‘committing an obscene act in public

The video shows Ahmed laughing while touching the genitals of a monkey at a pet shop in the Nile Delta city and making sexual innuendos as people around her chuckle.

At court she ‘confessed… to the incident but said she did not mean to commit an indecent act and that she had been tickling the monkey’.

via Egyptian woman is imprisoned for three years for ‘sexually harassing’ a monkey  | Daily Mail Online

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We Should Replace Facebook With Personal Websites

 

via We Should Replace Facebook With Personal Websites – Motherboard

 

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Venoms that can kill can also cure

“We knew even as kids,” Olivera says, “that this snail was ­capable of killing humans and that it has a 70 percent fatality rate.” It’s a foggy morning in Salt Lake City, and Olivera is near a bank of fish tanks in his lab at the University of Utah. Inside one aquarium, a white-and-brown snail is burrowed in the sand beside a small ­goldfish. The invertebrate extends its thick snorkel-like siphon and lightly sniffs the fish’s underbelly.

Olivera, now 77, grew up to be a chemist but never shook his love for these slow-moving assassins. He’s now the lead scientist at a 25-person lab that studies cone-snail venom. His job is to figure out how it works, and, in turn, transform it into drugs that could soothe and save human lives. So far, his lab has isolated several promising molecules, including a few painkillers, and a fast-acting insulin that could let diabetics quickly ­control their blood sugar. Among the former is Prialt (for primary alternative to morphine). Aside from being the first federally OK’d drug to come from a lethal snail, it works on different receptors than opioids to alleviate chronic pain in cancer patients. In other words, it’s non-addictive. But it will never be a primary replacement for morphine because it needs to be pumped into a patient’s spine. These days, Olivera and his colleagues are trying to isolate a snail toxin that could be turned into a new class of painkillers that target different pathways than what’s now on the market. If successful, it could offer a substitute to addictive narcotics like oxycodone (which kills upward of 14,000 Americans a year) as the go-to medication for millions of chronic-pain sufferers.

via Venoms that can kill can also cure | Popular Science

 

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Tree resin could replace fossil fuels in everything from printer ink to shoe polish

Loblolly pine trees in North Carolina

The loblolly pine isn’t the first choice of Christmas tree lovers. It’s not as compact as fir or spruce, and its needles are longer, so it doesn’t hold ornaments well. But the loblolly has a storied history, nonetheless.

Article Continues Below:

The famous Eisenhower Tree, on the 17th hole of the Augusta National Golf Club, was the bane of President Eisenhower. He hit it so many times while playing that he asked the club to cut it down. To avoid offending the president, the club’s chairman abruptly adjourned the meeting, rather than reject his request. (In 2014, the late president finally got his wish when an ice storm damaged the tree so badly, it had to be removed.) Loblolly pine seeds also traveled aboard Apollo 14 and were planted all around the country upon their return, including on the grounds of the White House. Some of these moon trees still survive.

Today, the loblolly is serving a more noble purpose by helping limit the need for fossil fuels. Researchers, tinkering with the tree’s genetics, have found a way to reverse-engineer how the loblolly produces resin, a discovery that could help manufacturers produce greener alternatives for a range of goods now made with oil and gas, including surface coatings, adhesives, printing inks, flavors, fragrances, vitamins, household cleaning products, paint, varnish, shoe polish and linoleum.

“The chemical composition of resins is not very different from that of certain fractions currently obtained from crude oil,” said Mark Lange, a professor in Washington State University’s Institute of Biological Chemistry. Lange wants to improve the production of resin to help reduce the chemical industry’s reliance on fossil fuels.

via Tree resin could replace fossil fuels in everything from printer ink to shoe polish | Popular Science

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The Amazon Alexa Eavesdropping Nightmare Came True

Photo: Gizmodo
An Amazon user in Germany recently requested data about his personal activities and inadvertently gained access to 1,700 audio recordings of someone he didn’t know.

Germany’s c’t magazine reports that in August the Amazon user—exercising his rights under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation—requested his own data that Amazon has stored. Two months later, Amazon sent him a downloadable 100Mb zip file.

Some of the files reportedly related to his Amazon searches. But according to the report there were also hundreds of Wav files and a PDF cataloging transcripts of Alexa’s interpretations of voice commands. According to c’t magazine, this was peculiar to this user because he doesn’t own any Alexa devices and had never used the service. He also didn’t recognize the voices in the files.

The user reported the matter to Amazon and asked for information. He reportedly didn’t receive a response, but soon found that the link to the data was dead. However, he had already saved the files, and he shared his experience with c’t magazine out of concern that the person whose privacy had been compromised was not told about the mistake.

C’t magazine listened to many of the files and was able “to piece together a detailed picture of the customer concerned and his personal habits.” It found that he used Alexa in various places, has an Echo at home, and has a Fire device on his TV. They noticed that a woman was around at times. They listened to him in the shower.

We were able to navigate around a complete stranger’s private life without his knowledge, and the immoral, almost voyeuristic nature of what we were doing got our hair standing on end. The alarms, Spotify commands, and public transport inquiries included in the data revealed a lot about the victims’ personal habits, their jobs, and their taste in music. Using these files, it was fairly easy to identify the person involved and his female companion. Weather queries, first names, and even someone’s last name enabled us to quickly zero in on his circle of friends. Public data from Facebook and Twitter rounded out the picture.

Using the information they gathered from the recordings, the magazine contacted the victim of the data leak. He “was audibly shocked,” and confirmed it was him in the recordings and that the outlet had figured out the identity of his girlfriend. He said Amazon did not contact him.

Days later, both the victim and the receiver of the files were called by Amazon to discuss the incident. Both were reportedly called three days after c’t magazine contacted Amazon about the matter. An Amazon representative reportedly told them that one of their staff members had made a one-time error.

When asked for comment on the matter, Amazon sent Gizmodo the same statement it had shared with Reuters. “This was an unfortunate case of human error and an isolated incident. We have resolved the issue with the two customers involved and have taken steps to further improve our processes. We were also in touch on a precautionary basis with the relevant regulatory authorities.”

Amazon did not answer Gizmodo’s questions about how a human error led to this privacy infringement, or whether the company had initially contacted the victim to inform them their sensitive information was shared with a stranger.

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The recordings of the victim were from May. That same month, a Portland woman found her Echo had sent a recorded conversation between her and her husband to one of his employees. Amazon said the virtual assistant misinterpreted speech as an order to send the conversation to a contact.

via The Amazon Alexa Eavesdropping Nightmare Came True

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Retailers Are Fighting Online Shopping With … Phone Chargers

Ours is the age of online shopping. This year, Black Friday internet sales jumped 28 percent over last year as consumers spent $3.7 billion online. In fact, many buyers abandoned desktops and tablets for their online purchases, turning to their phones instead. The trend isn’t new: Retail brands have been adjusting their strategies for years now, ramping up their online presences and capabilities and adopting internet-influenced tactics like mobile in-store checkout and drive-by pickup in their brick-and-mortar stores.

As it’s becoming increasingly evident that on-site retailers will continue to struggle against the behemoth that is online shopping, they will do whatever they can to get (and keep) consumers inside their stores. One emerging method: providing phone chargers. The lockers that charge phones are showing up in more and more stores in hopes of luring consumers who can’t bear the thought of a dead battery. Last year, Target installed ChargeItSpot machines in nearly 200 locations across the United States. The machines charge shoppers’ phones for free while also securing them. A Target rep says ChargeItSpot is especially popular in urban areas, where people are getting to the stores on foot and thus unable to charge their phones while driving to the store. “Since we started offering these kiosks in 2017, guests have charged their phones hundreds of thousands of times,” says Target representative Jacqueline DeBuse.

via Retailers Are Fighting Online Shopping With … Phone Chargers – The Ringer

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Man Contracts Lung Infection After Smelling His Own Used Socks Daily

The 37-year-old from Zhangzhou, Fujian Province was admitted to the hospital after experiencing chest pains and coughing, the New Straits Times reported. And as it turns out, he was diagnosed with a severe pulmonary fungal infection.

Doctors say that the man, identified as Peng, contracted the infection after inhaling the spores of a fungus that can typically be found growing in footwear. At some point during the medical examination after doctors wondered how this infection was made possible, Peng admitted that he had a habit of smelling his own smelly socks after coming home from work every day (why exactly remains unclear), before ultimately throwing them into the laundry hamper.

X-rays then confirmed the presence of the infection. And doctors knew that this strange sock-smelling habit likely had something to do with why Peng suffered the infection in the first place.

via Man Contracts Lung Infection After Smelling His Own Used Socks Daily

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New Extortion Email Threatens to Send a Hitman Unless You Pay 4K

Extortion emails are getting wilder and wilder. First we had sextortion scams that threatened to reveal victims doing dirty deeds on video, then bomb threats, which brought the worlwide attention of law enforcement, and now we have threats that a hitman is targeting the recipient unless they pay $4,000 in bitcoin.

These emails started appearing this week and have a subject line similar to “Pretty significant material for you right here 17.12.2018 08:33:00”. The content of the emails are written in poor English and grammar and state that the sender is the owner of a Dark Web site that offers different kinds of services for a fee.

The email goes on to say that someone came to the site to hire a hitman to target the recipient for an “instant and pain-free” execution. The owner of the site, though, is willing to call the hitman off if they receive $4,000 in bitcoin. As an extra bonus, they will also “remove the hitman”.

Hitman extortion email
The full text of this new scam is:

via New Extortion Email Threatens to Send a Hitman Unless You Pay 4K

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Endless War Has Been Normalized and Everyone Is Crazy

(CJ Opinion) — Since I last wrote about the bipartisan shrieking, hysterical reaction to Trump’s planned military withdrawal from Syria the other day, it hasn’t gotten better, it’s gotten worse. I’m having a hard time even picking out individual bits of the collective freakout from the political/media class to point at, because doing so would diminish the frenetic white noise of the paranoid, conspiratorial, fearmongering establishment reaction to the possibility of a few thousands troops being pulled back from a territory they were illegally occupying.

Endless war and military expansionism has become so normalized in establishment thought that even a slight scale-down is treated as something abnormal and shocking. The talking heads of the corporate state media had been almost entirely ignoring the buildup of US troops in Syria and the operations they’ve been carrying out there, but as soon as the possibility of those troops leaving emerged, all the alarm bells started ringing. Endless war was considered so normal that nobody ever talked about it, then Trump tweeted he’s bringing the troops home, and now every armchair liberal in America who had no idea what a Kurd was until five minutes ago is suddenly an expert on Erdoğan and the YPG. Lindsey Graham, who has never met an unaccountable US military occupation he didn’t like, is now suddenly cheerleading for congressional oversight: not for sending troops into wars, but for pulling them out.

via Endless War Has Been Normalized and Everyone Is Crazy

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Google created a ‘responsible innovation team’ to check if its AI is ethical

The newest job at Google: checking its AI to make sure it’s ethical.

The company has added a “formal review structure,” which consists of three groups to make big picture and technical decisions around the use of AI. That’s according to a blog post the company published yesterday (Dec. 18).

Google instated a new ethics policy earlier his year as a response to the worker movement opposing its controversial Project Maven contract with the Department of Homeland Security. This new framework is where that policy actually gets implemented, so that it’s no longer left to individual programmers or product groups to decide on their own if something is designed ethically.

Here’s what each team will be responsible for, according to the blog post:

A responsible innovation team that handles day-to-day operations and initial assessments. This group includes user researchers, social scientists, ethicists, human rights specialists, policy and privacy advisors, and legal experts on both a full- and part-time basis, which allows for diversity and inclusion of perspectives and disciplines.
A group of senior experts from a range of disciplines across Alphabet who provide technological, functional, and application expertise.
A council of senior executives to handle the most complex and difficult issues, including decisions that affect multiple products and technologies.
The Google blog post says that this framework has already made more than 100 assessments of deals and products, like the company’s temporary hold on releasing facial recognition technology. Going forward, Google will also be adding an external advisory group with interdisciplinary experts, a technique which has been heralded by critics as a way companies and governments can avoid unethical AI.

via Google created a ‘responsible innovation team’ to check if its AI is ethical — Quartz

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Repealing Net Neutrality: The Internet Apocalypse That Never Came

This month marks one year since the FCC repealed the controversial net neutrality rules, officially killing the internet as we knew it forever—or so net neutrality proponents would have liked you to believe. But as we take a closer look at what has actually happened in the year since the rules have been abolished, we find that the (often hysterical) rhetoric doesn’t reflect reality at all. On the contrary, the internet has actually improved since regulations were relaxed.

Hysteria Ensued
The internet has been a household commodity available for public use since August 6, 1991. However, according to net neutrality’s most fervent supporters, the internet didn’t truly take off until February 2015, when the FCC passed and adopted the new rules.

In both the lead up to the vote on net neutrality and its subsequent repeal, mass hysteria ensued in which many people were honestly convinced that without government intervention, all the online services we enjoyed would cease to exist. In an article called “How the FCC’s Killing of Net Neutrality Will Ruin the Internet Forever,” the magazine GQ even went so far as to say:

Think of everything that you’ve ever loved about the Internet. That website that gave you all of the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City cheat codes. YouTube videos of animals being friends. The illegal music you downloaded on Napster or Kazaa. The legal music you’ve streamed on Spotify. …The movies and TV shows you’ve binged on Netflix and Amazon and Hulu. The dating site that helped you find the person you’re now married to. All of these things are thanks to net neutrality.

It’s rather shocking that this sentiment was so widely accepted as truth considering that every single one of the listed examples existed prior to net neutrality. In fact, the only reason the internet was able to become such an integral part of our lives was that it was left virtually untouched by regulatory forces. And since spontaneous order was allowed to occur, internet users were blessed with unbridled innovation that brought forth a robust variety of services, which GQ prefers to attribute to government action that wasn’t taken until nearly 24 years after internet use became the norm.

continue  Repealing Net Neutrality: The Internet Apocalypse That Never Came – Foundation for Economic Education

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Hemp is legalized with President Trump’s signature on the Farm Bill

In this Oct. 23, 2018, photo, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute executive director Perry Brown, left, and Shannah Schmitt, behind, work with a team of employees to inspect their industrial hemp plants for signs of mold, decay and pests, while harvesting the quarter-acre grown for research at the location in East Troy, Wis. (Anthony Wahl/The Janesville Gazette via AP)
ANTHONY WAHL/THE JANESVILLE GAZETTE VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS
Michael Fields Agricultural Institute executive director Perry Brown, left, and Shannah Schmitt, behind, work with a team of employees to inspect their industrial hemp plants for signs of mold, decay, and pests, while harvesting the quarter-acre grown for research at the location in East Troy, Wisconsin.

Marijuana Moment is a wire service assembled by Tom Angell, a marijuana legalization activist and journalist covering marijuana reform nationwide. The views expressed by Angell or Marijuana Moment are neither endorsed by the Globe nor do they reflect the Globe’s views on any subject area.

President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalizes industrial hemp after decades of the crop being caught up in broader cannabis prohibition, into law on Thursday.

The signing ceremony represents the culmination of a months-long debate over various provisions of the wide-ranging agriculture legislation. But after the House and Senate Agriculture Committees reconciled their respective versions, the final Farm Bill easily passed in full floor votes last week.

Hemp legalization, a provision of the bill championed by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, received bipartisan support, with members on both sides of the aisle celebrating its inclusion in the now signed law.

via Hemp is officially legalized with President Trump’s signature on the Farm Bill – The Boston Globe

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FCC Claiming, Community Broadband Is An ‘Ominous’ Threat To Free Speech

So back in October, we noted how FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly attended an event where he falsely claimed that towns and cities that decide to build their own broadband networks (usually due to market failure) were somehow engaged in an “ominous” assault on free speech. The only “evidence” O’Rielly provided was that community ISPs include language in their terms of service preventing users from being hateful shits online, the same exact languageyou’ll find in the TOS’ from any number of private ISPs, from Comcast to AT&T.

There’s absolutely no evidence that any of the 750 towns and cities that have tinkered with this idea ever trampled anybody’s free speech rights.

Yet after being criticized by several press outlets (including this one), O’Rielly apparently decided his best bet would be to… double down on his false claims. In a new blog post over at the FCC website, O’Rielly again tries to insist that community broadband is a giant threat to free speech, but this time he attempts to vastly expand his argument in a bid to make it sound more logical. The tap dancing around his lack of evidence in his original claim is particularly amusing:

Bizarrely, my critics further responded that I had failed to provide historical “evidence” of First Amendment mischief by muni networks. Perhaps they were confused about how a constitutional violation works. A state action or law can violate the First Amendment as applied or on its face. In the case of the latter, the law or act is always unconstitutional, and in the case of the former, it is only unconstitutional to the extent of a particular application. My argument was not based on as-applied historical instances of censorship, but on facial grounds. That is, certain terms in the muni broadband codes I cited facially violate the First Amendment.

That’s a misdirection and a dodge, though putting evidence in quotes is a nice touch.

via FCC’s O’Rielly Keeps Claiming, With Zero Evidence, That Community Broadband Is An ‘Ominous’ Threat To Free Speech | Techdirt

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123456 Is the Most Used Password for the 5th Year in a Row

For the 5th year in a row, “123456” is most used password, with “password” coming in at second place. Even in the wake of a constant stream of data breaches, hacks, and ransomware attack reports people continue to utilize weak passwords that not only put their information at jeopardy, but also their organization’s data.

In SplashData’s 8th annual worst passwords list, the password management company analyzed more than 5 million leaked passwords to come up with their list of most used passwords. According to their report, the top 10 most used passwords are:

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 123456789
  4. 12345678
  5. 12345
  6. 111111
  7. 1234567
  8. sunshine
  9. qwerty
  10. iloveyou

“Bad habits die hard, according to SplashData’s eighth annual list of Worst Passwords of the Year,” stated SplashData’s press release. “After evaluating more than 5 million passwords leaked on the Internet, the company found that computer users continue using the same predictable, easily guessable passwords. Using these passwords will put anyone at substantial risk of being hacked and having their identities stolen.”

Password management company Dashlane also released a report this week that focuses on the biggest password mistakes of the year. Topping the list is Kanye West, who in full view of television cameras entered the password “000000” into his cell phone to unlock it.

continue https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/123456-is-the-most-used-password-for-the-5th-year-in-a-row/

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Women Are Now Majority Of STEM Grads

Centers for Disease Control Meningitis and Special Pathogens Branch (MSPB) laboratorian, Mary Ari, utilizing an Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA test), 2005.
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Women now make up just over half of all Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) graduate school enrollees in the U.S. and earned more than half of all science and engineering bachelor’s degrees between 2004 and 2014, according to analysis from the American Enterprise Institute.

Mark J. Perry, an AEI scholar and professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan-Flint, has been studying gender gaps in various aspects of society for years, and has a new report out using various data sets to show that women are not underrepresented in STEM — at least when it comes to education.

“In fact, according to several measures, women are actually slightly over-represented in STEM graduate programs and earn a majority of STEM college degrees,” Perry wrote. But, he cautions, a lot of the conclusions depend on how one defines STEM. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, he cites, says the “definition of STEM can vary, depending on the group using it.”

continue https://www.dailywire.com/news/38765/what-gender-gap-women-are-now-majority-stem-grads-ashe-schow

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Fully 3D printed and functional electric motorcycle

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BigRep, a global leader in large-scale 3D printing, premiers a host of innovative 3D-printed prototypes for automation and e-mobility applications. Designed by NOWlab, the BigRep innovation consultancy and printed on BigRep’s large-scale 3D printers the innovations include two groundbreaking prototypes for e-mobility applications: the world’s first fully 3D-printed and functional electric motorcycle, the NERA, and a bionic passenger seat, the Aero Seat. Advancing applications in AM are two other new prototypes, the Adaptive Robotic Gripper, designed for flexible handling applications, and the Omni Platform, a 360° mobile industry platform for fully automated manufacturing environments. For more information see the IDTechEx report on 3D Printing 2018-2028.

continue https://www.3dprintingprogress.com/articles/15902/fully-3d-printed-and-functional-electric-motorcycle

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MINI VAN DE GRAAFF IS A SHOCKING DESK TOY

 

continue https://hackaday.com/2018/12/10/mini-van-de-graaff-is-a-shocking-desk-toy/

 

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