April 2012

Scott Smith writes at Current Intelligence: Identifying alleged troublemakers is no longer just the job of the faceless men and women in dark operations rooms. The riots also made facial recognition more…

You may still have that dinosaur virus your ancestors caught millions of years ago. David Shukman explains for BBC News: Traces of ancient viruses which infected our ancestors millions of years ago…

Artist Jonathan McIntosh presents 30 of the best and most notable mashup videos from before the age of YouTube:

Political remixes can be traced back to the 1920s, when Soviet filmmakers like Esfir Shub recut American Hollywood films to give them a sharper class commentary. During World War II, Charles A. Ridley created (and gave away for free) the first viral political mashup by reediting footage of Nazi soldiers to make them appear to dance and sing to the tune “The Lambeth Walk.” When VCRs became more widely accessible in the early 1980s, UK artists calling themselves video scratchers appropriated television footage to create biting critiques of pop culture media and Margaret Thatcher’s economic policies [and] recut television commercials and music videos to provide a feminist critique.

Wondering if it is possible to experience outer space life  here on Earth? Via Interweb3000, a photo series cataloging training for NASA astronauts in the mid-1960s: I’ve browsed back a bit in…

A fascinating example of how racism was officially inscribed earlier in U.S. history — a map created by the city government of Durham in which all geography and locations are racialized. Imagine…

If you work on Wall Street it’s time to take Bill’s Hicks’ advice for advertising and marketers … because this will never happen. Sheila Bair writes in the Washington Post: Are you…

Cocaine BricksRichard A. Serrano writes in the LA Times:

Police and federal agents pulled the car over in a suburb north of Denver. An FBI agent showed his badge. The driver appeared not startled at all. “My friend,” he said, “I have been waiting for you.”

And with that, Jesus Audel Miramontes-Varela stepped out of his white 2002 BMW X5 and into the arms of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Over the next several days at his ranch in Colorado and an FBI safe house in Albuquerque, the Mexican cartel chieftain — who had reputedly fed one of his victims to lions in Mexico — was transformed into one of the FBI’s top informants on the Southwest border.

Around a dining room table in August 2010, an FBI camera whirring above, the 34-year-old Miramontes-Varela confessed his leadership in the Juarez cartel, according to 75 pages of confidential FBI interview reports obtained by The Times/Tribune Washington Bureau.

GraduationDerek Thompson writes in the Atlantic:

Have you heard about the dangerous, rising cost of not going to college? In the last 30 years, the typical college tuition has tripled. But over the exact same period, the earnings gap between college-educated adults and high school graduates has also tripled. In 1979, the wage difference was 75%. In 2003, it was 230%.

Over the last three decades, the cost of going to college has increased at nearly the exact same rate as the cost not going to college. How can the price of getting something and not getting something both rise at the same time?

That is the paradox of college costs…

NavisonChristopher Mims spills the beans for Technology Review:

Location services company Navizon has a new system, called Navizon I.T.S., that could allow tracking of visitors in malls, museums, offices, factories, secured areas and just about any other indoor space. It could be used to examine patterns of foot traffic in retail spaces, assure that a museum is empty of visitors at closing time, or even to pinpoint the location of any individual registered with the system. But let’s set all that aside for a minute while we freak out about the privacy implications.

Most of us leave Wi-Fi on by default, in part because our phones chastise us when we don’t. (Triangulation by Wi-Fi hotspots is important for making location services more accurate.) But you probably didn’t realize that, using proprietary new “nodes” from Navizon, any device with an active Wi-Fi radio can be seen by a system like Navizon’s.

To demonstrate the technology, here’s Navizon CEO and founder Cyril Houri hunting for one of his colleagues at a trade show using a kind of first person shooter-esque radar.

Exploring the radical roots of a popular science fiction genre. Via Airships, Anarchists, & Anachronisms: Steampunk began as a radical satirical form of fiction, but today it encompasses much more. What precisely…

Tavis Smiley and Cornel West discuss their new book on Democracy Now!:

The latest census data shows nearly one in two Americans, or 150 million people, have fallen into poverty — or could be classified as low income. We’re joined by Dr. Cornel West and Tavis Smiley, who continue their efforts to spark a national dialog on the poverty crisis with the new book, The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto.

According to an op-ed entitled “Why Are We Drugging Our Soldiers?” in the New York Times by Richard A. Friedman, “the number of Ritalin and Adderall prescriptions written for active-duty service members…

Turing PlaqueAlan Turing, perhaps the greatest computer scientist ever, famous for breaking the Germans’ Enigma code in World War II, wrote two papers on code breaking that have just been released by Britain’s spy center, GCHQ. From BBC News:

Two 70-year-old papers by Alan Turing on the theory of code breaking have been released by the government’s communications headquarters, GCHQ.

It is believed Turing wrote the papers while at Bletchley Park working on breaking German Enigma codes. A GCHQ mathematician said the fact that the contents had been restricted “shows what a tremendous importance it has in the foundations of our subject”.

It comes amid celebrations to mark the centenary of Turing’s birth. The two papers are now available to view at the National Archives at Kew, west London. GCHQ was able to approximately date the papers because in one example Turing had made reference to Hitler’s age.