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      The ENIAC Programmers: how women invented modern programming and were then written out of the history books

      Kathy Kleiman, founder of the ENIAC Programmers Project, writes about the buried history of the pivotal role played by women in the creation of modern computing, a history that is generally recounted as consisting of men making heroic technical and intellectual leaps while women did some mostly simple, mechanical work around the periphery. Read the rest

      Learning from Baltimore's disaster, Florida city will pay criminals $600,000 to get free of ransomware attack

      The city council of Riviera Beach, Florida has voted unanimously to pay $600,000 to criminals who seized control of the city's computers through a ransomware attack, after three weeks of being locked out of the city systems (the city has also voted to spend $1m replacing its computers). Read the rest

      Elizabeth Warren proposes a ban on private prisons and immigration facilities

      Elizabeth Warren has added another plank to her prodigious and admirable campaign platform of well-thought-through, progressive, sensible, popular proposals for a Warren administration: banning federal agencies (including ICE and the Department of Corrections) from contracting with private prisons. Warren also wants to stop contractors from charging inmates fees for essential services (including price-gouging on phone-calls, videoconferncing, mail, and email), and forcing contractors to comply with FOIA requests for information on their activities on behalf of government agencies. Read the rest

      Google Maps is still overrun with scammers pretending to be local businesses, and Google's profiting from them

      We bought a house in 2018 and have been renovating it pretty much constantly ever since: I've had to call out movers, emergency plumbers and electricians, find HVAC repairpeople, hire locksmiths, contract with a roofer, etc etc. Despite the longstanding and serious problems with fraud on Google Maps, I often start my search there, because I am an idiot, because 100% of the time, Google Maps sends me to a scammer. One hundred percent. Read the rest

      America can only go to war against Iran if it reinstates the draft

      Gil Barndollar -- a Marine veteran who served in Afghanistan, the Republic of Georgia, Guantanamo Bay and Bahrain, who also holds a PhD in History from Cambridge -- writes in USA Today about what a US regime change effort in Iran would mean, logistically speaking. Read the rest

      Jewish human rights scholar: yes, America has built concentration camps

      Anna Lind-Guzik ("a writer, attorney, and scholar of Soviet history, international law, and human rights, with degrees from Duke University, Harvard Law School, and Princeton") has written an essay defending Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's use of the term "concentration camps" to describe the facilities in which America has imprisoned brown-skinned asylum seekers who have presented themselves at the nation's border. Read the rest

      Independent audit finds Facebook activity has fallen by 20% since Cambridge Analytica

      The "business analytics" firm Mixpanel has released its figures estimating the total usage of Facebook (liking, sharing and posting) since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke; they showed usage falling off 10% in the first month following from the news of the scandal, and continuing to fall, with overall usage down by 20% since April 2018. Read the rest

      Tennessee lawmaker defends operating an unregistered "Christian magic supply" business

      Rep. Matthew Hill [R-Jonesborough] is the proprietor of Dock Haley Gospel Magic, a business supplying "Christian-themed magic supplies and teaching aids to customers around the world who use magic shows as a form of evangelism." Read the rest

      Star Wars-themed furniture to furnish your Tardis with

      Na-nu, na-nu fellow trekkies! The Kenneth Cobonpue Star Wars Collection features Dark Side-themed chairs and end-tables, a wookie "rocking stool" (hot tip: ask for a sample before you get the whole stool!), and the standout, a powder-coated metal light-saber-battle lamp in two sizes. Read the rest

      Ta-Nehisi Coates makes the case for reparations to Congress

      It's been five years since Ta-Nehisi Coates's groundbreaking The Case for Reparations ran in The Atlantic; yesterday, Coates appeared before Congress to celebrate Juneteenth with a barn-burning statement that starts as a response to Mitch McConnell's dismissal of racial injustice in America, but quickly becomes more than that -- a Coatesian masterclass in understanding race, America, history and the present moment. Read the rest

      Wonderful profile of Anita Sarkeesian, the feminist games critic who made an army of shitty manbabies very, very upset

      Anita Sarkeesian (previously) is a brilliant media theorist and critic whose Feminist Frequency/Tropes vs. Women in Video Games projects revolutionized the way we talk about gender and games -- and also made her a target for a virulent misogynist hate-machine of harassing manbabies who threatened her life, doxed her, and did everything they could to intimidate her into silence. Read the rest

      Private Join and Compute is Google's free/open source tool to allow "mulitparty computation" of encrypted data without decryption

      Private Join and Compute is a new free/open Google tool that implements the longstanding cryptographic concept of "commutative encryption," which allows untrusted parties to merge their datasets without revealing their contents to one another, do mathematical work on the data, and learn the outcome of that work without either of them seeing the underlying data. Read the rest

      The "ghost networks" of mental health professionals that US health insurers rely on to deny care to their patients

      If you've decided to investigate treatment options for your mental health, your health insurer will cheerfully refer you to a list of hundreds of providers -- but as STAT's Jack Turban discovered, this "network" of providers is actually a "ghost network," filled with wrong numbers that ring in McDonald's restaurants and jewelers. If you happen to reach an actual mental health professional, they'll probably tell you they're not accepting new patients. Read the rest

      Finally, a useful application for augmented reality: rendering virtual kitchen roaches

      Laanlabs's showreel for 6d.ai meshing technology is an augmented reality demo in which virtual cockroaches crawl all over a very real kitchen. It's the best use of augmented reality I've ever seen. (via Beyond the Beyond) Read the rest

      UK government quietly cancels "age verification" system that would have compiled a database of every Briton's sexual fantasies

      Since the days of David Cameron, the UK has been pressing ahead on a plan to force every British person who wants to see pornography to register as an adult through a private-public partnership (administered by a Canadian porn monopolist that pretends to be a Luxembourg company) before they could see sexy times on the internet. Read the rest

      Paper-towel dispenser with a EULA prohibiting rival brands of paper

      John Overholt from Harvard's Houghton Library spotted a paper towel dispenser whose prominent EULA prohibits refilling it with non-Tork brands of towels, with Tork vowing to "enforce its rights under applicable laws and agreements." Read the rest

      Multilingual "red cards" to help immigrants assert their rights during ICE shakedowns

      The Immigrant Resource Legal Center offers multilingual, printable templates for "red cards": bust cards adapted for use by immigrants being targeted by ICE squads. Read the rest

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