Author Archive | moezilla

Amazon Patents Strange New Lightweight, Transparent Kindle

Picture: Leonard Low (CC) (For illustration purposes only)

Amazon’s just filed a patent describing a new form of lightweight, transparent Kindle technology that can be embedded in your eyeglasses or your car windshield and never needs to be recharged.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is listed on the patent as a co-inventor of the technology, which converts the handheld Kindle devices into simplified display mechanisms receiving data and electricity from a larger, more powerful central station. This would allow Amazon to create much lighter and cheaper devices, notes one Kindle blog, speculating that Kindles could become not just lighter than paper, but disappear altogether into other devices, “leaving nothing behind but the words from your ebooks.”

 

 

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Cypherpunk Pioneers Warn of a “Coming Surveillance Dystopia”

Twenty years of cypherpunk* get mixed reviews in this article by the former editor of Mondo 2000 (the pre-web technology magazine which William Gibson remembers as “a focus of something that was happening”). The editor describes the 1992 conversation in which Jude Milhon first coined the term cypherpunk, and how Julian Assange posted his first words on the Cypherpunk mailing list in 1995 — “I am annoyed…”

But nearly 20 years later, contemporary cypherpunk now finds itself on the verge of what Assange calls “a postmodern surveillance dystopia, from which escape for all but the most skilled individuals will be impossible.” On the one hand, EFF co-founder John Gilmore argues today that cypherpunk “did reshape the world” by freeing encryption from government control, while threat analyst Adrian Lamo warns that “The biggest threat to our privacy is our own limited understanding of how little privacy we truly have.”

Last September the ACLU even warned that “federal law enforcement agencies are increasingly monitoring Americans’ electronic communications, and doing so without warrants, sufficient oversight, or meaningful accountability.” And this article even notes that for $10 million, one South African company “will sell you a turnkey system that can intercept all communications in a middle-sized country!”

*Wikipedia article on cypherpunk.… Read the rest

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How a Chinese Hacker Tried to Blackmail a Top Executive

Picture: Domsama

Slate provides the first-person account of a CEO who received an e-mail with several business documents attached threatening to distribute them to competitors and business partners unless the CEO paid $150,000. “Experts I consulted told me that the hacking probably came from government monitors who wanted extra cash,” writes the CEO, who successfully ended the extortion with an e-mail from the law firm from the bank of his financial partner, refusing payment and adding that the authorities had been notified.

According to the article, IT providers routinely receive phone calls from their service providers if they detect any downtime on the monitors of network traffic installed by the Chinese government, similar to the alerts provided to telecom providers about VoIP fraud on their IP-PBX switches.

“Hundreds of millions of Chinese operate on the Internet without any real sense of privacy, fully aware that a massive eavesdropping apparatus tracks their every communication and move…” writes the CEO.

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Scientists Create New Gasoline Substitute Out of Plants

Picture: Steve Jurvetson (CC)

California scientists have just created a new biofuel using plants that burns just as well as a petroleum-based fuel. “The discovery, published in the journal Nature, means corn, sugar cane, grasses and other fast-growing plants or trees, like eucalyptus, could be used to make the propellant, replacing oil,” writes the San Francisco Chronicle, and the researchers predict mass marketing of their product within 5 to 10 years.

They created their fuel using a fermentation process that was first discovered in 1914, but which was then discontinued in 1965 when petroleum became the dominant source of fuel. The new fuel actually contains more energy per gallon than is currently contained in ethanol, and its potency can even be adjusted for summer or winter driving.

Read the full article here.

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The Five Worst Thanksgivings in History

You may know John Marr for his classic essay “Death at Disneyland“. Here’s an even more brain-frying article he wrote about the worst Thanksgivings ever in American history. I read this every year as a gratefulness-inducing holiday tradition. Be thankful you weren’t celebrating Thanksgiving in Reno in 1980:

Thanksgiving Day Massacre, Reno, 1980

Priscilla Ford had a long history of psychiatric problems and bizarre behavior, marked by such quixotic acts as suing the Mormon Church and attempting to speak at the 1972 Republican Convention. The capper came on the Thanksgiving afternoon when she got even with the City of Reno. In front of the downtown casinos, she steered her black 1974 Lincoln onto a crowded sidewalk and mowed down the crowds of holiday gamblers and gambolers. She left six dead and 23 injured in her wake. Pulled over a few blocks later, she told police, “Sometimes I am called Jesus Christ.” She later expressed a fervent hope that she’d nailed 75 people, and explained the voice of Joan (Mrs.

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Burning Man Arsonist Apparently Commits Suicide

San Francisco’s newspaper is reporting the death of Paul Addis, who in 2007 “spent time in prison for setting the Burning Man wooden icon on fire four days too soon.”

The notorious “Burning Man Arsonist” (and performance artist) served nearly two years in prison for what he’d described as an act of protest. “This was not an act of vengeance, it was one of love,” he’s remembered as saying in the San Francisco newspaper. “A love of the ethos that is fading at Burning Man. There’s no sense of spontaneity. No sense of ‘Fuck it. Let’s burn this down.'”

At the time, he was appearing as Hunter S. Thompson in a one-man stage play called Gonzo: A Brutal Chrysalis. San Francisco’s newspaper reports that in 2008 he was also arrested against outside a San Francisco church with a backpack filled with fireworks “after telling neighbors the church ‘isn’t going to be there anymore.'”

This Saturday night, he was killed after throwing himself in front of a BART commuter train.… Read the rest

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Is The Internet Driving Us Crazy?

Newsweek magazine just ran a front-cover story asking, “Is the Web driving us mad?” It cites new scientific research to argue that the internet is causing depression, changing our brain structure, and creating other mental illnesses. One UCLA research director tells the magazine “the computer is like electronic cocaine,” fueling a similar cycle of highs and then lows, and they also cite California psychologist (and book author) Larry Rosen, who believes the internet “encourages – and even promotes – insanity.”

Hachimaki (CC)

But at least one response argues that Newsweek is deliberately overstating the research, citing misleading sentences like “When the new DSM is released next year, Internet Addiction Disorder will be included for the first time, albeit in an appendix tagged for ‘further study’…”

Here’s the beginning of the Newsweek story by Tony Dokoupil:

Before he launched the most viral video in Internet history, Jason Russell was a half-hearted Web presence.

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Public Radio’s Sexy Typo

Last weekend I visited the web site for Marketplace Morning Report, a business program on American Public Radio, often broadcast by local NPR stations during Morning Edition.

But Saturday, I noticed one enormous typo in their transcript of Thursday’s interview.

Hobson: All right, what about the federal highway funding bill — this is the transportation bill. It’s been debated back and forth but still no agreement on it, and I guess the fucking could come to a halt at the end of the month if they don’t come up with a solution? Dimsdale: That’s right.

There’s a link to it (and a screenshot) on this page – along with a funny commentary about what this could mean…

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When Timothy Leary Met John Lennon

Photo: Roy Kerwood (CC)

A never-before-published transcript  reveals what John Lennon talked about with Timothy Leary during a “bed-in” at a hotel in Montreal. Just three months before Lennon left the Beatles — and the same week he recorded “Give Peace a Chance” — Leary warns the 28-year-old Beatle that “the kids must be taught how to use the media… People used to say to me… ‘Did the Buddha go on television?’ I’d say, ‘Ahh – he would’ve. He would’ve..'”

In a dark coincidence, Lennon remembers the Beatles last U.S. tour in 1966, saying “it was terrifying…. Somebody was letting off balloons, and we all looked around to see which of us had got shot!” And Leary invites Lennon to visit a scenic valley near their estate in Massachusetts, though a footnote in the transcript points out they abandoned the estate after government persecution led by G. Gordon Liddy, and within a year, Leary was in prison.… Read the rest

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Can Fuel be Created from Human Fat?

SumoThis article proposes a new “transfer of energy stores that can ease our fuel burden” by harvesting human body fat for fuel!

“In energy terms, the average BTU of a gallon of human body fat is actually 11% higher than the BTU of a gallon of diesel gasoline,” reports science writer James Kent — noting that the IRS is already granting a 50-cent-per-gallon incentive for the conversion of other animal fats. (And he tells the story of a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon who powered his SUV with fat from his liposuction patients — plus his girlfriend’s SUV.)

While fat-sucking may seem like a strange response to gas shortages, there’s the equivalent of 637 million gallons of fuel stored in our fat, and the average person carries at least two gallons of high-grade biodiesel fuel in their body. (This article even suggests low-cost liposuction clinics — possibly covered by Medicare, and receiving government subsidies as an alternative fuel source.)”

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